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Love Match

May 28, 2004 12:31 PM

Ernie Vetrano, a champion both on and off the court, has garnered many admiring supporters over the years. Unfortunately, this past week, Ernie lost his dearest friend and number one fan when his lovely wife Pat passed away.

Vetrano, from Ridgefield, MS, has been playing tennis since the early 1970's. At the age of 40, his wife, Pat, gave him a tennis racquet as a gift for Father's Day instead of the bermuda shorts he wanted. Disappointed, he wondered aloud "what he was supposed to do with this?"

The timing of the gift coincided with the opening of a new public tennis facility in Jackson, MS. Deciding to give the new gift a try, Ernie joined a Thursday night tennis league that sent him on a path to becoming an avid tennis player. As they say, “The rest is history.”

While Ernie has won countless league and tournament matches, his passion for tennis has always taken a back seat to the love of his wife and family. Pat Vetrano had fearlessly battled through a series a medical problems, including a kidney transplant, a stroke that resulted in partial paralysis and later left her wheelchair bound, skin cancer and subsequent amputation of her left arm.

But through it all Pat's positive mental attitude touched those around her, inspiring others to work through their own adversity and to never feel sorry for themselves. She never let any of her varied medical problems stop her from getting out to watch her beloved Ernie compete. As his best friend and most ardent supporter she could always be found cheering him on from the sidelines. She loved the game and has surely watched more social tennis and more tournament matches than most spouses could imagine.

In 1994 Ernie retired to care for Pat full-time. As the loving husband he is he doted on her constantly, always making sure that she was comfortable on the sidelines of the tennis court, even to the point of putting her makeup on her as she was unable to do so. It was easy to see that they were each other's number one fan.

"Although I’m extremely proud of the many tennis victories and tournament wins my dad has accomplished over the years, I am more honored and proud of him as a Christian, a devoted husband, father, and grandfather," said son Tony Vetrano. "In addition to being one of the best players in the South in the 70 & over age bracket and the sole caretaker of my mom for many years, he still finds time to be very active in the lives of his grandchildren."

Ernie and Pat have 2 children, Tony and Karen and six granchildren.

Their's was a great "love match" that ended May 25, 2004, with Pat's death.

Loving words from friends and family:




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