Helping Grow Tomorrow’s Tennis Talent–the Mardy Fish Foundation

young tennis player

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.

 

Mardy Fish serving during 2010 Atlanta Tennis Championships.

 

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.

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We Love League Tennis! Our USTA Video for Atlanta Tennis Championships

The Atlanta Tennis Championship sent out word of a contest for USTA members to send in a video showing their love for league play, so you know I had to jump on that opportunity.  The winning videos were selected and ours made the top three.  We just had to share, so enjoy.  This was played at center court during the Atlanta Tennis Championships last night.  That’s glory enough for me.  Think Mardy Fish and crew might come calling on us to play with him sometime?

Tennis Love for the League

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How to Feel Better About Not Being at Wimbledon

The 125th Anniversary Wimbledon Towel

I love tennis. Love it. And it kills me to know all the real action is happening at Wimbledon in Great Britain right now, a place I really love to visit.  So we have London, a place I fell in love with back in ’09 when I saw it for myself for the first time, and tennis, the sport I adore and consider my own personal therapy, mentally and physically.  And I’m not there. 

So what have I done about it?  I went shopping (another kind of sweet therapy).  I went online and ordered myself an official 125th Anniversary Wimbledon towel.  It’s not much, I know, certainly not a trip to watch the best in action, but it’s something, even if it’s just something to cry into later if I can’t figure out how to pay for a trip there next year.

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Get on Court with the Professionals–Volunteer at Atlanta Tennis Championships

Want to see some of the greatest tennis athletes up close and personal without them accusing you of stalking them (that’s a joke folks—if you’re a stalker they’ll keep you miles away anyway!)? This is your chance. The Atlanta Tennis Championships are coming to the ATL in July and they’re looking now for volunteers. Your children can actually be right on the court with the professionals if they’re willing to be ball boys/girls, and you can help out behind the scenes if you’re game. All you have to do is click here and fill out the info they request. The event is taking place July 18-24. 

Not sure if volunteering is right for you? How about just buying tickets? You can find out more about that by clicking here.

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New Tennis Outfits for Me and….

So the husband came home from a trip to the PGA Store (we get gift cards when we sign up to play Ultimate Tennis) today and came home with three tennis shirts and one tennis dress for me today… so sweet, right?  That’s what I was thinking…”that must have been some sale” because he knows I treat myself to a tennis outfit maybe twice a year.  So I asked if the guys’ stuff was on sale, too, and what he picked up for himself.  The answer: a new Babolat racquet. Yeah.  Hmmmm.  Did I mention I have always played with a hand-me-down racquet my father-in-law gave me?  I’m thinking someone was feeling a little guilty about splurging on himself, huh?  Should I just tell him to make it his Father’s Day present?

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Learning Tennis From the Professionals–Live and In Person!

 

When you play tennis, watching guys like Roddick and Fish and Isner on TV is an every-weekend treat.  But getting to see them play live is another experience entirely.  And by that, I mean it’s a blast.  I was treated to tickets from a friend last year to the Atlanta Tennis Championships and I felt like I was at the SuperBowl of Tennis.  The guys “with the skills” were just feet away…close enough to be able to hear the expletives roll out when they weren’t happy with a play.  I’m not complaining one bit–I feel closer to the athletes knowing how they handle the sport, both when they’re playing well or falling apart on the court.  Seeing Isner stand next to anyone else gives you a real handle on his height.  Watching Fish go toe-to-toe with the ump over a line call is a real kick, too.  I’ll be back at the competition this summer, hoping that they’ll eventually add women to the lineup here.

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Tennis is the Ultimate in Family Fun

Tennis is now the fastest growing sport in the U.S. (according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association).  That’s no big shock in my family…we all play, some competetively and some just for kicks.  I play because I’m addicted, pure and simple.  When I walk on the court I know I’m going to be thinking of my next shot–not the bills or all the work waiting for me to get done–and I love that escape.  My husband lives for the competition.  My kids like it for different reasons (the 5 yr old really just likes the skirts, but there’s time to convert her!).  It doesn’t hurt that it’s free to play any time we want, other than the price of new balls and the occasional racquet to replace.  In this economy, it’s affordable fitness and works my mind as much as my body.  Tennis truly provides something for everyone–from moms to dads to gear gurus or travel fans.  It’s great family fun and we hope you enjoy learning all kinds of facts about tennis while clicking around on the site.

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