The following article appeared in the Times Herald-Record on May 8, 2009 and was written by Ken McMillan.
Anne Houghton was in seventh grade when her older sister, Kate, broke the news about her college intentions.
"One day she came home and said, 'I really think I am going to go into the Army,'" Anne recalled. "I was like, 'OK, funny, Kate. What's going on?'"
Six years later, it was Anne Houghton who headed to West Point, her tennis racquet in tow. By that time, the younger Houghton was enamored with the Academy, having spent time with Kate and their brothers, John and Rick all became West Point cadets and Army tennis players. Kate and John graduated in 2007, and Rick is a senior on the men's team.
"I always knew, watching them and looking up to them, that I wanted to make this a part of my life, too,'' Anne said. "I would go to other colleges and see the college life it seemed fun for a little bit, but I really wanted to make some goals for myself, and I think it will be fun to be an officer and become a leader.''
That's not to say the new military and academic life has been easy for Houghton.
"There were days,'' she said, "when I seriously said, 'Why am I here?' I think everyone here at school will have a terrible day. Most say they hate it but love it at the same time.''
Through all the tough times, tennis has been Houghton's great escape. "It's like a vacation away from school,'' she said.
Even though there was a family legacy within Army tennis, women's coach Paul Peck was glad to close the recruiting deal on Houghton. What he got was a top-60 player in the girls' 18-under national rankings and a three-time Western Pennsylvania high school champion.
Houghton carried her success into the college ranks. She played the majority of her freshman season at No. 1 singles, and became the first woman to win the Patriot League player and rookie of the year award in the same season. Her 16 wins at first singles ranked second all-time for dual matches, and her 24 overall singles wins tied for eighth.
The expectations were raised, and Houghton lived up to the billing. She won the team and league MVP awards again this season as a senior, with a team-leading 28 singles wins her 18 dual-match wins set the Academy record. She has teamed with best friend Kristin Beehler to post a team-best 20-5 doubles mark.
"She is the best player in the league and one of the better players in the Northeast,'' Peck said. He said Houghton would have no problem facing any of the top women's players from the Ivy League and Big East schools.
The stakes get higher today, as Houghton leads Army into the NCAA Division I tournament and a matchup with sixth-seeded Miami (Fla.). The match will be played at 1 p.m. in Coral Gables.
"I am really excited,'' Houghton said. "When you go to those tournaments, every single girl is good and every match you play is competitive.''
With Army as the clear underdog, Houghton said it's important to hit all out and go for shots.
"You can go out swinging and have fun on the court,'' she said. "We're going to stick to the game plan and not act like we're playing superheroes. We all think we have a shot.''