She is 'Belle' of tennis courts

Annabelle Campbell of Sharon is one of 12 who will be inducted on Friday.
YOUNGSTOWN -- One of the few black female tennis players from the Youngstown area, whose career spanned the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, will be inducted into the Ebony Lifeline All-Sports Hall of Fame Friday night.
Annabelle "Belle" Campbell of Sharon, who no longer plays tennis but still is a good bowler, will be one of 12 persons entering the Ebony Hall of Fame at the organization's 10th-annual banquet at the Mount Carmel Banquet Hall that will start at 6:30 p.m.
Campbell, 66, a 1958 graduate of Sharon High, will be one of two females in the 2006 induction class, joining bowler Daphne Smith.
The other selections are Ode Aduma, contributor community service; Dr. Benny Allison, football and basketball; Harry Arroyo, boxing; Earl Douthitt Jr., football; Jerry Fields, football; Robert "Nod" Hines, coach and contributor; Henry Primm, boxing; Kenneth E. Sigurani, boxing; Jerry Sutton, all sports; and David L. Townsend, coach and football.
The annual banquet and inductions are sponsored by the Ebony Lifeline Support Group. Inc. Bob Thomas of Youngstown is a co-founder of the organization (1984) and now serves as chairman of the board.
Harold Davis guest speaker
Guest speaker will be Harold Davis, former standout football player for North High and Westminster College who was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2004.
Davis, who played for the Titans from 1953-56 under coach Harold Burry, became the first and only three-time first-team All-American in Westminster history from 1954-56.
During his career, Davis led the Titans to an overall record of 28-1-1, including the first undefeated seasons in school history in 1953 (8-0), 1955 (6-0-1) and 1956 (8-0).
Judson Flint, former Cleveland Browns football player and Ebony Hall of Fame member, will serve as the master of ceremonies.
Montell C. Scott, student at Woodrow Wilson High, will receive the McCullough Williams Jr. Community Service Award.
For banquet tickets, call Ed Prayor at 330-743-6193, Trudy Jackson 330-743-6193 and Jack Carter 330-783-0542. Tickets also are available at the L.E. Black, Phillips & amp; Holden Funeral Home and Mason F.D. Memorial Funeral Home, and will be on sale at the door.
Campbell started on playgrounds
Campbell, who is employed at Farrell High as a security officer and for the Farrell Police Department as a custodian, said she began playing tennis and many other sports when she was just a young girl.
"I started playing on the playgrounds when I was about 8 or 9 years old. I was a tomboy. I played tennis, basketball, volleyball and all sports," said Campbell. "That's all we did. We didn't have anything else to do but play." And, "I was good at it."
She said she used to play tennis in summer playground tournaments in the area, including at Buhl Park in Sharon and Packard Park at Warren, and she once played in Ravenna.
"I played singles the best. I liked singles because I felt no one could beat me," said Campbell, noting that she wanted to become a professional tennis player.
"Tennis definitely was my best sport. But I broke my kneecap when I was in elementary school. I fell out a moving car. But I still played with the injured knee even while I was growing up."
But she played mostly on the playgrounds. "Back in those days, we lived on the playgrounds. We shoveled snow off the courts to play basketball."
Her Father backed her dreams
Campbell said she wanted to go on to college and become a physical education teacher, but her father and her biggest supporter, Henry Dessawn, died in 1962 and the funds just weren't there for her to continue her education.
"My dad bought all my [equipment]. He wanted me to play tennis and to be a physical education teacher," said Campbell, who later took up bowling in 1969 and had immediate success.
"Bowling was a real natural to me," said Campbell, who once averaged 190 but now is averaging 171 in a league in Farrell. "I love bowling. I have forgotten about tennis. I watch [tennis] but now I'm strictly a bowler."

Don't Miss a Story

Sign up for our newsletter to receive daily news directly in your inbox.