There’s a big focus on children and tennis these days as the US tries to grow tomorrow’s top talent, and even the professionals are helping them achieve their dreams. America’s top-ranked player Mardy Fish has an entire Foundation built around his goal of not just getting kids playing tennis, but getting them playing all kinds of sports (and musical instruments).
The Mardy Fish Foundation is set up in Vero Beach, Florida, where Mardy has a home. I recently asked the Foundation about why this superstar athlete was so eager to take care of the little guys around him. The responses are below.
Q: Why focus on the kids and their health and activities?
MFF: Mardy knows that he has had a lot of help and support from his home town of Vero Beach and wants to give back to the community where he grew up, and what better way than to do it through the children of the community. The Mardy Fish Foundation offers programs that are not part of their normal education. Currently there are over 2100 children in 13 elementary schools who can participate in before and after school programs in fitness, tennis, basketball, baseball, guitar, keyboard, art, performing arts, dance, zumba, gymnastics, martial arts, baton twirling, cheerleading & health/nutrition with additional programs in the planning. The Mardy Fish Foundation also supports programs such as Boy’s and Girls Club & Youth Guidance.
Q: When did Mardy start playing? Was there someone or something that triggered his love for the game?
MFF: He started hitting tennis balls in his basement in Minnesota, where he was born, before he was two and then played his first tennis tournament when he was 6 years old. He played all sports as he was growing up but specialized in tennis when he was 15. His mom and dad influenced him to play tennis. His dad Tom is a teaching tennis professional as is his younger sister Meredith.
Q: What is his goal with the MFF…to extend beyond Indian River County, etc?
MFF: The foundation started with one, then two elementary schools with full programs, but has now expanded to 13 elementary schools and now also has a full tennis program called Mardy’s Kids on Court for students of all ages and levels. Expansion of the foundation is in the planning stages with hopes to go national.
Q: What is the MFF biggest fundraiser…is it something he’d like to see others outside his community be part of, etc?
MFF: The biggest yearly fundraiser is held here in Vero Beach, Florida, once a year with his childhood best friend and country Music Star Jake Owen also a Vero Beach native. Mardy’s Tennis & Jake’s Music Fest is a full weekend event that includes kids’ tennis clinics, school program exhibitions, luncheons, dinners, auctions (silent & live), professional tennis matches & exhibitions with tennis celebs, golf scrambles, and a country music concert with Jake Owen and other country music stars. Events such as this yearly event on the east coast could certainly go bi-coastal. Smaller fund raisers are scheduled throughout the year to benefit the foundation and the youth of the community.
Q: What else would you like others to know about the MFF?
MFF: We want all children to be able to reach their “Achievable Dreams” with a little help from a friend…..Mardy Fish!
If you want to try to attend the next big fundraiser, it’s set for December 9-10 in Vero Beach, FL. You can find more information here.