Disclaimer: I have no part in the creation and ownership of the Prince and Tennis, but the plot to this story is entirely a figment of my imagination.
Summary:Sakuno is actually a tennis prodigy with skills equal to Ryoma, and she has been travelling a lot with her parents until she decided to stay with her grandmother 2 years ago. She is the manager the Seigaku male tennis team and has yet to join the girls team.
She is unanimously also the male team's medic and is quite an accomplished one.
The time line of this story is the same as in the anime. There are some AU characters and might be some OOC characters. This story might not completely follow the storyline. The pairings are mainly Ryoma/Sakuno. The regulars are like older brothers to her and are very protective of her since they have been training her and with her. She has some of their personalities and talents. This story starts right from the beginning where Sakuno and Ryoma met on the train.
(On the train)
(On the train)
There is a group of high school boys in front of Sakuno, and one of them was swinging a racket around without any care to his surroundings, boasting about his 'amazing' tennis skills and his knowledge about the eastern and western grip.
"This fool here is so noisy, and the nonsense that is spouting out of his mouth is enough to put me asleep! His current grip now is the eastern-grip but he is calling it the western-grip. Then again most people, especially second-rate players like him who tend to boast but are air-headed would be confused."
Sakuno calmly looked at him and thought about the differences between the eastern and western grip, at the same time mocking the show-off in front of her. After a few swings, she finally noticed that the racket was getting closer and closer to hitting her in the face. She immediately tried to move back and out of the racket's reach but to no avail since the fool was moving closer and closer to her.
"Shoot, he's swinging the racket closer and closer to my face! I had better get ready to move since he doesn't seem to have any idea of what he's doing. I don't feel like picking a fight with second-rate players like him today, even if I get so much fun and satisfaction out of embarrassing them."
As the racket neared her face, Sakuno got ready to slide out of harm's way, but was surprised and relieved when she heard a voice cut in and interrupt the fool's rambling. She did not notice the boy in front of her before, but now she took a good look at him.
"Hmm? He's rather cute, but looks cocky and I think that he's around my age. He's probably a tennis player, judging from the bag beside him and his outfit." (He is wearing the same outfit as in the anime and has the same equipment.)
When Sasabe dropped his racket in surprise and bent down to retrieve it, Sakuno smirked and cut into the conversation.
"Ah, now that is the western-grip. Your thumb has to be on the handle like that. With all that boasting you just did, I wonder just how good your skills really are. If I were to take a guess, I'd say not really good at all since your swings were rather weak as well."
Sakuno smiled saccharine smile at the shocked expressions on the high-school boys' faces and calmly collected her things since the train had already arrived at her destination. She did not notice the slightly amused expression of the boy in front of her since he had already started to exit the train. She calmly walked out and smirked when she heard the conversation going on between the high school boys behind her.
Third Person's POV
Third Person's POV
She wandered around trying to look for her grandmother who was supposed to pick her up, but could not spot her. Sakuno decided to give her grandmother a call, but was surprised when the boy from the train stopped in front of her and asked for the directions to the same tennis courts that she was going to.
"Hey, do you know the Kaginogizaka Tennis Garden?"
"Ah, aren't you the one from before? I'm sorry, I'm headed there as well but I'm new to this area. However, my grandmother is coming to pick me up, so would you like to go with me? It shouldn't take long; I just need to give her a call."
"Sure, but make it quick, I need to be there in less than an hour's time." Ryoma shrugged and stuffed his hands into his pockets.
"How rude! I offered him a solution and he didn't even bother to thank me. I hope that someone would teach this cocky brat some manners. I had better call grandma since I'm also participating in the competition."
Sakuno punched in the numbers on her cell phone and was relieved when Sumire picked up after the first ring.
"Grandma, where are you? You are supposed to be here by now, I need to be at the competition but I do not know the area."
"I'm sorry, but something came up and I can't make it in time. You're just going to have to head there yourself. You have to take the --- and ----. Sakuno, can you --- me? There's ---static --- in---" The line was cut of before Sakuno could ask her grandmother to repeat the directions. She tried to call her grandmother again a few more times but could not reach her.
Sakuno groaned and pocketed her phone while Ryoma looked on with an expressionless look on his face.
"Well, I guess this means that we're on our own. We have only half an hour left to get there. We had better ask for directions if we want to get there on time." Sakuno grabbed Ryoma's hand and dragged him to the first idle person that they saw, which happened to be an old lady. Ryoma was surprised but followed Sakuno anyway, since he did not want to be late.
"Excuse me, but can you please tell us which exit to take to get to the Kaginogizaka Tennis Garden?"
Sakuno asked politely while desperately hoping that the old lady might be able to give them correct directions. The last time she took directions from an old lady, she ended up miles away from her destination and hopelessly lost, which caused her to forfeit her match. Needless to say, she did not want a repeat of the experience.
"Why, what a cute little couple. Are the both of you on a date? Of course I can help you. Ah, let's see, I think you have to exit from the South Gate in order to get there."
Sakuno and Ryoma were surprised as they didn't understand what the old lady meant and raised an eyebrow. They both looked down and saw that they were still holding hands. Sakuno blushed and dropped his hands as though they were hot coals while Ryoma merely looked bored, but tilted his cap to hide the small blush on his cheeks.
Sakuno hurriedly thanked the old lady and ran off with Ryoma behind her. The both of them were in such a hurry to leave that they did not bother to check the signboards to confirm the old lady's information. As such, they ended up getting lost after fifteen minutes of getting no where.
Sakuno groaned and buried her face in her palms while Ryoma looked annoyed. They were stuck in the middle of no where with no clue on how to get to the competition and the people around them were so busy with their own businesses that they couldn't ask anyone for directions.
"You have got to be kidding me! Why is this always happening to me? It's the second time already, someone up there must either hate me very much or they're just laughing at my expense. I really do not want to forfeit the match due to default! It's not fair, and I was so looking forward to this competition as well!" Sakuno wailed and pouted.
Ryoma was slightly surprised that Sakuno would a contestant as well, since she did not seem like much of a tennis player. But looks can be deceiving, since he was often on the receiving end of such criticism. He looked at her bag and noticed that it was a very good quality one that stored up to at least 3 rackets and was the same brand as his. (Her tennis outfit and appearance is her usual one, though without the clip.)
Sakuno took out her cell phone again and desperately dialed Sumire's cell phone number while the both of them decided to head back to the train station.
"Obaa-chan, we're lost! We were given wrong information and have no idea where we are now. We're currently heading back to the train station but we need cleared directions to get to the competition."
Sakuno and Ryoma were now full-out running as they were running out of time.
"What? You have less than twenty minutes to get here before the registry closes. When you get to the station, exit from the North Gate and follow the sign boards along the road. They should be enough to lead you here, hurry!" Sumire was nearly yelling as she got to the last words while Ryoma and Sakuno picked up their speed.
"We're trying our best already! We'll be there on time, I hope." Sakuno replied quickly and hung up, not knowing that Sumire was shouting out some questions about who she was with.
When they reached the venue, it was too late. The registry was already closed and the competition had started some time ago. Sakuno was disappointed but did not show it while Ryoma looked indifferent, but was slightly annoyed.
Sumire met Sakuno in front of the registry area and was surprised to see that Ryoma was with her. She patted Sakuno's shoulder sympathetically and introduced herself to Ryoma.
"It's a pity that the both of you could not make it on time. If you did then this competition would have been easily won by the both of you since there really wasn't much competition here anyway. Since you are already here, I suggest that you walk around and watch a few matches. It's nice to finally meet you, Echizen Ryoma."
"Oh, I guess that it's a pity then. I should really think of investing on a GPS system so that I do not have to take directions from anyone ever again if it's going to get me lost. Wait, how do you know him? He didn't even introduce himself and I have no idea who he is either." Sakuno was confused and her gaze switched between Ryoma and Sumire.
"You did not know? Ryoma is a tennis prodigy who had taken the tennis world by storm by winning four consecutive titles in the American Junior Tennis tournaments – all in a little over a year. Then again, you did not watch television much since you were too busy playing tennis all day." Sumire explained and walked away with a wave.
"Well this is awkward, now that grandma has left there's no one to play icebreaker now. I suppose that I should apologize for making him forfeit the match."
Sakuno turned to Ryoma and started to apologize while bowing a few times.
"Hi, I am Ryuzaki Sakuno. I'm sorry that I caused you to forfeit the match because I dragged you along and got wrong information. Please forgive me, how about I buy you a drink to make up for it? I insist!"
"It doesn't matter anyway. Come on."
With that, Ryoma walked towards the drinks dispenser and waited for Sakuno to catch up. After watching Sakuno frantically dig around her bag for a few minutes, he wordlessly paid for both their drinks while Sakuno apologized again and again with a blush on her face.
"I'm so sorry; I must have left my wallet at home. I'll pay you back one day, I promise. Just leave you phone number with me so that I can contact you about it."
"It doesn't matter. Hey, you play tennis right? How about a match? I did not come here all this way just to go back without playing a single match." Ryoma challenged her with a smirk on his face while drinking his Ponta.
Sakuno was surprised but agreed. They finished their drinks and headed to an empty court to have a match. They took out their rackets and Sakuno's racket was black with a silver cherry blossom on the top of its handle.
"This should be interesting, how long have you been playing tennis, Ryoma-kun? Do you enjoy playing it? I really do enjoy it." Sakuno asked as they were walking towards the court.
"I can't remember since when. By the time I realized it, I was already playing it everyday, but I enjoy it too." Ryoma answered her question truthfully and easily, as though he were talking to an old friend.
"Why am I so comfortable with this girl anyway? I barely know her, and yet I can speak to her so easily. She's right though, this will be interesting match. She seems to be a rather good player." Ryoma was somewhat confused about his feelings, being the dense boy he is, and pushed it to the back of his mind.
"Which?" Sakuno held her racket upright on the ground.
"Smooth." With that, Sakuno spun the racket.
"Rough, looks like I go first." Sakuno smiled and was about to head to the serving line of her courts but was interrupted by a group of players who were strutting into the court as though it belonged to them. She was annoyed but recognized the voices. It belonged to the high-school boys that she met on the train, and there was another higher pitch voice as well that clearly belonged to a girl.
"Cheh! How annoying, and the girl sounds like a hyena. I hope that someone will shut her up, preferably glue her mouth shut so that I will not be able to hear her voice again. I'll ignore them for now and concentrate on the match, my opponent is not to be taken lightly." Unknown to each other, Sakuno and Ryoma were thinking of the exact same thing.
As they were about to begin, an obnoxious voice cut through the air and disrupted them. Sakuno had already tossed the ball into the air and was about to serve it but caught it again, unwilling to play when there were pests around. Sakuno and Ryoma both turned to the group and stared at them as though they were wasting their time, which they were. Their eyes were also filled with an unspoken challenge.
"Hey, you guys were the brats that were on the train with us just now! Now I can teach you a lesson for insulting me like that!" Sasabe's voice was condescending and was filled with scorn. He was also puffed up as though he was better than them.
"Hmm? Oh, so it's you guys. By the way, have you learnt the eastern and western grip yet? Or do you need us to teach you again?" Ryoma smirked and retorted.
"Who are you children anyway? What is your relationship with my precious Sasabe-sama? Are you the ones who so bravely insulted him and his awesome tennis skills? Answer me you brats!" The girl beside Sasabe was demanding answers as though she had a right to them.
Ryoma and Sakuno just looked at each other and thought that the both of them were perfect for each other. After all, a hyena and a buffoon make such a great pair. Sakuno was a little bored but irritated, so she decided to rile up the girl.
"It's customary to offer your name when asking for someone else's name. For someone your age, one would have thought that you would know that by now. Besides, why would we tell a hyena and a buffoon's our names anyway?" Sakuno and Ryoma smirked as the girl's and Sasabe's faces turned red from anger and embarrassment.
"Why you! How dare you insult us like this! I am Ari Urao and the handsome man beside me is Sasabe-sama. The both of us were semi-finalists in the high-school level Nationals qualifier this year and are captains of the boy's and girl's tennis clubs respectively. We're nothing like you incompetent underachievers like you two! Girl, I challenge you to a match! Would you accept, or are you just too afraid of losing to someone who is clearly better that you?" Ari all but screamed and Sasabe looked as though he was about to spontaneously combust and issued the same challenge to Ryoma.
"Hmm? Underachievers? Well then, since I did not plan on going back without playing a single match, I'll accept your challenge." Ryoma smirked while Sakuno too agreed to Ari's demand.
"Be prepared to lose, just because you are younger that us doesn't mean that we'll go easy on you. In fact, I'll be happy to watch you cry after we pound you into dust! The match will be self-judged and it will be a one-set match." Ari continued and headed to the court beside Sasabe's.
"Which?" Ari held out her racket.
"Smooth." Sakuno watched lazily as the racket stopped spinning.
"Aw, tough luck brat! But since I pity you, I'll let you go first." Ari cackled and walked to her end of the court without giving Sakuno a chance to reply.
"I'm going to squash her like a bug under my soles! That'll teach her to insult me! I'm sure that Ryoma will be fine, since he's playing against an arrogant buffoon who over-estimates himself. I think that I'll go easy on her for a while and see how well she really plays." Sakuno faced her opponent and served with her right hand to start the match.
"Here you go, an easy one. I'm sure that even an amateur like you would be able to return it." Ari jeered and decided to mock Sakuno by returning weak shots to her.
Sakuno surprised Ari by sending a fastball towards the sideline in the backcourt. This continued for several minutes until Ari started to panic and resorted to cheating in order to score some points. Sakuno was bemused and raised an eyebrow at that. She knew that Ari was a lousy tennis player with somewhat low standards but this was really low, even for her. Sakuno felt embarrassed as a tennis player just by Ari's unprofessional actions.
She decided that it was time she added a little more fuel to her game. Sakuno hit the ball in such a way that it spun to a stop where it fell and did not bounce upwards. This continued until the score was 4-0. At this point, Ari felt really threatened. She looked towards Sasabe and saw that he was having similar results. When their eyes met, they decided to do the one thing that they did best, which was cheat.
When Sakuno lobbed the ball, Ari jumped up and pretended to try and hit the ball. When she reached her desired position, she threw her racket in front of Sakuno so hard that it broke and sent shards and pieces flying into Sakuno. Sakuno did not see it coming, so she could not react fast enough to prevent the shards and pieces from piercing her face, right arm, and legs. The pieces were imbedded deep enough to cause her to bleed, but thankfully did not cause serious injuries, even if it did hurt a lot. Sakuno was so shocked that she let out a cry of pain and sank to the ground.
"Oh my, I'm so sorry. My hand was so sweaty that my racket slipped out of my hand! It's a pity that you face is scratched up, but it's a good look for you." Ari laughed and walked over to retrieve the pieces of her racket that was still on the ground. Then, she walked over to her bags and took out another identical racket.
Hearing her cry, Ryoma's head turned to her so fast that he nearly got a whiplash from it. When he was distracted, Sasabe hurled his racket at Ryoma's face, hitting him just above his eyes and also causing him to bleed. The remainder of the group who were standing at the sidelines was shocked and aghast when they saw that Ari and Sasabe would go as far as to injure their opponents in order to win, not to mention that their opponents are around 4-5 years their junior.
The both of them ran to Sakuno and Ryoma, frantically checking their injuries and trying to persuade them to seek medical attention.
Sakuno grimaced and shakily got up. She was bleeding but it wasn't too bad, nothing that her homemade salves couldn't fix. She picked out some of them that were obstructing her movements. However, she left the other pieces that were embedded in her skin in order to stop her bleeding more effectively. She spared Ryoma a glance and was thankful and relieved that his injury was just a mild one.
"Guys, I thank you for your concern but I'm fine. Please get off the courts now, the matches are still ongoing." Sakuno smiled sweetly and reassured the both of the high-school boys who were kind enough to try and help her and Ryoma.
"Ne, Ryoma-kun? Let's make a deal, if I were to finish my match within 10 minutes before you do, you will buy me lunch, since I will most likely end up hungry later. However, if you finish before I do, then I will buy you lunch. Deal?" Sakuno grinned and stated her challenge loud and clear so that their opponents will be able to hear them.
"Damn! What on earth possessed me to make this bet anyway? It's not like I'm asking him out on a date am I? Groan… Momo-sempai must be rubbing off me when it comes to betting with food. I just hope that he will accept it. Wait, what?! I just hope that he will accept it??!!! What am I thinking! Am I going crazy?! Please don't tell me that I actually like this guy! Oh dear! If the rest of my senpais find out about this I'm so doomed, and so is he. I'm going to be so embarrassed that I'll have to move to a whole new country to escape the embarrassment! Just play it cool, Sakuno. They can't read my mind, I think."
Ryoma did not notice that turbulent storm going on inside her mind as she managed to smile an angel's smile. However, she did not manage to stop the small blush from blooming on her cheeks. Thank goodness that the blood on her face made it difficult to see it.
"Sure, but I warn you that you should be prepared because I will definitely finish before you do. I also have a pretty big appetite, so you have to be ready to empty your wallet." Ryoma smirked and tilted his hat to hide the blush on his face as well.
"What the? Why am I blushing? Is it me or did I talk a lot more than usual? Why do I feel so fuzzy and warm inside? She looks so pretty with that expression on her face, it's a pity that it's covered with cuts and blood. I hope that she'll be able to hold out until the match ends. What are those two guys doing so close to her??!!! That's MY Sakuno you're looking at now you stupid oafs! Get away from her, don't touch her; don't even look at her! She's My Sakuno, that smile should only be reserved for ME, she's MINE! Wait, what??!!! What am I saying?! Sakuno-chan is not mine, I certainly don't own her. I can't care less about her, right? Oh darn, why am I so confused?! I better just concentrate on the game."
With that, Ryoma turned back to his game, where Sasabe was fuming and looking as though he had dunked his whole face into tomato red paint. Sakuno also turned back to Ari who had heard every single word of the conversation, and now turning purple with rage even while smirking, thinking that Sakuno would not be able to defeat her in her present condition.
"You heard my deal, hyena woman! I have only 10 minutes to kick your ass!" Sakuno threw the ball high up into the air and jumped after the ball. She then smashed it so hard that it slammed into the ground in front of Ari before rebounding and flying past her face with such speed and force that Ari was stunned, not to mention the fact that the ball also managed to shave of a lock of Ari's hair.
"Hmm? I wonder how she'll look like after I'm done with her. Well, let's find out."
Sakuno laughed evilly in her mind and imagined Ari's hairstyle after the game ended. She served the same balls for the next few times and got the same results. At the end of her serving round, Ari's hair looked as though someone had done her hair with eyes closed and shaved off some lengths here and there. Her hair was choppy and uneven.
When Ari served, Sakuno returned to balls with the same force that she used when she served, ending up with the same results and shaving off more of Ari's hair. Soon, Ari's once long locks were reduced to stumps and clumps sticking out at odd random angles, as though some birds built some nests in her hair.
"Did you really think that I wonder lose to someone like you just because I'm injured? You must be really stupid to even think of such a thing. You are a disgrace as a tennis player; the fact that you are the captain of your team really makes me wonder how you got the position in the first place. You have no right!" Sakuno was somewhat angry and her tone of voice was really cold, her eyes were narrowed and looked almost red against the sun.
"Game set and matched, won by Echizen/Ryuzaki; 6 games to none!" The two remaining high school boys announced together at the same time, to Sakuno and Ryoma's surprise.
Speaking of Sasabe and Ari, they sank to the ground in shock when they were defeated by Ryoma and Sakuno, bruises on Sasabe's face and a sorry excuse for a hairstyle for Ari. However, Ari's hairstyle was definitely one of the funniest things they had ever seen.
Sakuno started laughing uncontrollably while Ryoma smirked and said, "Mada mada dane, nice hairstyle."
Ari shrieked and ran off to find a mirror when she reached up to touch her badly misshapen hair. Sasabe immediately tried to deny Ryoma's victory and insisted that he wasn't playing seriously.
"Ne, Ryoma-kun? Since he insists that he wasn't playing seriously, why don't you play him again but this time give him a black eye or two? It'll be an interesting combination."
"Not a problem, how many should I give him?" Ryoma got into a serving position and switched the racket from his right hand to his left. Sasabe was so unnerved by the shot that he tripped over his own legs and fell over. His eyes were wide with terror and he wailed and ran off with the rest of his group chasing after him.
A/N: So how was this chapter? Somehow it feels as though there's something wrong here. I'm more of a vocabulary person, so if there's someone who can offer to be my beta-reader I'd really appreciate it. I just need some comments on my writing style to know where I can improve. Overall I hope that you will leave reviews and tell me what kind of scenarios you would prefer.