For the past 10 days I have been working as the official stringer at a $25,000 ITF Pro Circuit Futures tournament at the Wake Forest Tennis Center in Winston-Salem.
A week ago Friday I had one of my busiest days at the tournament, stringing 22 rackets. Which isn’t overwhelming for a tournament, except that I didn’t start stringing until after I finished teaching Friday morning. So I left the tennis center at nearly 1:00am Saturday morning, 5 hours after the facility closed and the last person other than me left.
Thankfully, I was perfectly safe because the tennis center is part of the Wake Forest University athletic complex, and as such, no weapons are allowed on the property.
Actually, the tennis complex is in a remote location, behind the football and baseball stadiums. It is bordered by R.J. Reynolds tobacco offices and warehouses, which are quickly becoming an industrial wasteland. Just beyond that is a higher-crime area of Winston-Salem, according to crime maps available on the Winston-Salem Journal website.
So, I am always extremely nervous and aware of my surroundings when I leave the building after hours. As usual, I made it safely to my car and home that night. I woke up the next morning, however, to an email from Wake Forest’s office of communications notifying us that a student had been shot in an armed robbery on one of the streets that borders campus.
Apparently he was returning home after walking some female students home when he was set upon by three teenagers/young adults in an SUV who robbed him and shot him in the chest. Thankfully he was found laying in the road by an Uber driver and is recovering in the hospital.
The student was shot in an area where a lot of Wake Forest students live and walk late at night, especially on the weekends. My son, who attends the university, told me that he routinely walked from houses in that neighborhood back to his dorm room on campus, alone at night. This was obviously a big wake-up call for him and hopefully for other students as well.
It was also a reminder to me that I ought not be in a gun free zone, at a closed business, alone at 12:45am. The Wake Forest student who was shot 1.27 miles away and 100 minutes after I left the tennis center could have been me.