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Love Match - Tony Vetrano

June 1, 2004 11:42 AM

There are numerous people who we learn from, are touched by, and admire throughout our lives. Often these people help form and shape our ideas, personalities and contribute to the successes we have and enrich our lives. I’ve been truly blessed by two people that not only helped shape me by the DNA they passed to me but by the nurturing love and daily example of life experiences they have provided to me over the years. In addition to Ernest being my dad, he is also my favorite tennis partner, role model (who could ask for a better example of a family man?) and best friend. My mom with her positive mental attitude inspires everyone to work through adversity and to never feel sorry for themselves.

I have seen and continue to see the hard work and love it takes to make a successful marriage and family and I try hard to emulate the examples provided by my parents in my own family. Most couples have said the words, “for richer, for poorer, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health” during a marriage ceremony but few have been put to the test and live it with the honor, dignity, devotion, and love that my parents have. I am truly amazed after forty-two plus years of marriage by their continued trust, love and faith in each other.

In the early part of my dad’s tennis career the one constant, in addition to his Charlie-hustle mentality, was his number one fan, his wife, was always watching and cheering him on. Still, to this day, from her wheelchair, my mom still enjoys watching her husband play, compete, and win. 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. In addition to being one of the best players in the South in the 70 & over age bracket, the sole caretaker of my mom, he still finds time to be very active in the lives of his grandchildren.

It was actually by accident that my dad started played tennis in the early 1970’s at the age of forty. This was a period when tennis experienced a tremendous growth in popularity among middle class America. My mom purchased my dad a tennis racquet instead of the Bermuda shorts he wanted for Father’s Day. Well, you’ve never seen someone so disappointed in a gift. My dad said, “Pat, what in the world am I going to do with this?” This happened to be around the same time that a new public tennis facility opened up in Jackson, Mississippi, named Parham Bridges. Deciding to give the new gift a try, dad joined a Thursday night tennis league that sent him on a path to becoming an avid tennis player. And as they say, “The rest is history.”





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