After district preliminaries, the wheels start turning, wheels that she and her boys set in motion themselves, and there isn't anything to be done but wait for the inevitable. Mizunofuchi and Kakinoki's coaches complain to the tournament officials, who in turn complain to Fudoumine's headmaster during the scramble to rewrite the rules mid-season. Are they allowed to do that? Kamio-kun wonders while the rumors about what's going to happen fly.
Whether it's permitted or not, it's being done. Headmaster Kimotomine and his staff dig up a boy to play on the tennis team. Hoshi Soichirou is certainly a decent player, probably good enough to keep up with the rest of the team, and possibly a better player than Ann herself. Kimotomine-san speaks to Ann. Drop off the team, he says. Let Hoshi-kun take the seventh spot. The tournament officials say the same thing. Drop the tennis team. Let a boy take your place. If you do, we won't disqualify Fudoumine.
Before Ann can make the choice, her boys make it for her. While Ibu-kun and Mori-kun distract Ann by convening a quiet war council, supposedly to discuss Kimotomine-san and the official's offers, Kamio-kun and Ishida-kun go to speak with the tournament officials. Instead of being a calming influence, Ishida-kun only encourages Kamio-kun's temper to spectacular new heights. Uchimura-kun and Sakurai-kun will not tell her what they said--or did--to Hoshi-kun, but he backs out of whatever deal Kimotomine-san has offered him in exchange for joining the tennis team.
In the end, they are disqualified, ostensibly because of certain things Ishida-kun has said, and certain suggestions Kamio-kun has made, but everyone knows the truth. And when Ann fusses at her boys for not allowing her to resign from the team so they could at least have a shot at making it to Nationals again, they ruffle her hair and remind her that they are a team, and play as a team, no more and no less.
Ann has never been so proud of her boys, tells them as much, and is not the only one with misty eyes.
And when they go to prefecturals, to see Kakinoki take the place of their disqualified team (and lose in round one, which gives Ann guilty pleasure to watch, and her boys too, to judge by the wolf grins), Seigaku's coach is not the only one to stop by to offer her regrets that Fudoumine has been dropped from the tournament.
In a traditional tennis team, the third-years would have resigned from the team after the disqualification, to make way for the younger members and to begin studying for the high-school entrance exams.
The Fudoumine third-years just keep playing tennis, practicing drills while trading chemistry formulas back and forth, and playing practice matches while Ibu-kun delivers history lectures that often wander into the strangest tangents. When he can spare the time from the high school team, Kippei stops by to offer advice, both on tennis and on the studying.
Sometimes, other students wander by the tennis courts, to watch the practice sessions, and sometimes, members of the faculty drop in with speculative looks in their eyes. Ann begins to hope that maybe, even after she and her boys have graduated and gone on to high school, Fudoumine will still have a junior high tennis team.
Nothing she can think of would make her happier.