ALTAMONTE SPRINGS — It was supposed to be a triumphant cap to a unique high school tennis career for Barron Collier senior David Irvin.
For the fourth year in a row, Irvin was a member of a state championship tennis team. However, he wasn’t able to add to his four individual medals after being disqualified during his No. 3 singles final against Alex Bartholomew of Wharton.
Irvin had just finished pounding Bartholomew in a quick and easy 6-1 first set when he engaged the Wharton fans who were taunting him. He apparently swore at them, but according to Irvin, it was a quick exchange and he thought nothing of it at the time.
Wharton coach Marcie Scholl was sitting near the court and immediately alerted the tournament director and head official. According to Irvin and other witnesses, Scholl embellished the story.
“I actually was having a fun match, I had no problems with the kid I was playing and we were laughing and having a good time,” Irvin said. “However, every time I missed a shot, there would be applause or comments made by the Wharton fans and their coach, who I didn’t even know was their coach, the way she was acting. That’s not good court etiquette and I let them know about it. If I had it to do all over again, I wouldn’t have said anything, but I never expected to be disqualified.”
Scholl apparently told the head official Irvin threatened her and she feared for her safety, and the official immediately disqualified Irvin.
“That shouldn’t happen,” Barron Collier boys co-coach Eric Manring said. “No official saw or heard what took place, so it basically becomes her word against his. Now, I’m not defending David, he shouldn’t have said anything to the fans. But you can’t just blindly accept her story as a fact. If that was the case, almost anybody could say anything and get a kid disqualified.”
Irvin was asked to leave the premises, and his default meant he and teammate Charles Johnson couldn’t play in the No. 2 doubles tournament.
“I was out getting water when the whole incident happened,” Manring said. “When I found out about it, my initial response was ‘oh crap’ we could be in trouble. Luckily, the rest of the team stepped up and made sure the default didn’t hurt us.”
Barron Collier cruised to the state title with 17 points, beating second place St. Thomas Aquinas by seven points. It assured Irvin of achieving a rare feat — being a key contributor on four state championship teams. He won his first two team titles as a member of the Naples Golden Eagles, and the last two with Barron Collier. He won two individual singles titles and two doubles championships with Naples.
“It hurt because I wanted to add a few more medals,” Irvin said. “But more than that, I really felt bad for my doubles teammate Charles. The whole ordeal cost him a chance at a doubles title and that’s what I felt really bad about. I had no doubts the other guys would pick up the slack and make sure the default didn’t cost us the team title.”
Irvin says the incident taught him a few lessons as he prepares for his college career at the University of North Florida.
“My dad’s a judge and he’s always said sometimes rulings aren’t going to go your way,” Irvin said. “Things in life aren’t always going to go your way and I’ll learn from that. But the main thing I learned was to let your tennis do the talking out there.”