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Monday, November 17, 2014

Sean Karl 1994-2014

This photo, by Lloyd Clayton of YourGameFace.com, was taken after a second round  Kalamazoo match in 2012, a few months before Karl received his diagnosis.
Just over two years ago, at the age of 18, Brentwood Tennessee's Sean Karl was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare bone and tissue cancer. Yesterday Sean died, engulfing the entire junior and college tennis community in sadness.

Shortly after his diagnosis in 2012, Sean, one of the top juniors in the country, signed with the University of Tennessee. Although knowing he faced a lengthy regimen of treatment, Sean did not give up on tennis. That he was able to put on an orange Tennessee uniform in the fall of 2013 and play three tournaments, recording five wins, shows the depth of his courage and resolve. 

The cancer returned, and Sean was no longer able to play, but he continued to be a part of the team, supporting them when possible and even traveling to Athens in May to see teammates Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese win the NCAA doubles title.

There are few words that can convey the tragedy of a cruel disease taking a life so prematurely. Sean and his family have been an inspiration to all those who have known them, with the grace, the determination and the optimism they have shown in these past two years. He touched so many lives, had so many friends, had such passion for life, that his legacy will be a lasting one.  His death is a profound loss to everyone, with expressions of sympathy and sorrow appearing on all forms of social media as the news of his death became known.

Tennis and the Tennessee Volunteers were a huge part of Sean's life, and his memory will continue to be honored by those communities.  The athletic department has provided a moving tribute to Karl, which can be found here.

For background on the Karl family's remarkable courage during the past two years, see this article from the Brentwood, Tennessee homepage.

Lisa Stone of Parenting Aces wrote this beautiful eulogy for Sean today.
Information on the two services planned for this week, and the opportunity to donate in Sean's memory, are provided at the bottom of that page.