Judging from our latest junior tournament, tennis can be a family tradition, particularly if dad plays. I could not help but notice all the tennis playing father/son combinations there. We had fathers who played high school tennis, fathers who played on the pro tour, sons who were looking for their first tournament win, sons who had national rankings. The common bond was their love of the game.
Colin Gaunt started playing tennis when he was 2 years old. “My dad had several tennis racquets …. me and my dad would hit tennis balls against our garage door, over and over. Then …. when I was four years old, we began hitting tennis balls on a real tennis court. “ Chris Gaunt recalls “The early memories of tennis together are hitting against our garage door… I really enjoyed tennis with Colin as he got a little older… By the time he was four, we were hitting tennis balls on a fairly regular basis and that has continued. Colin and I talk about tennis all the time. I have encouraged Colin to play “life sports” like tennis, because it really is a sport that can be enjoyed at any age, regardless of level. I hope that he continues playing tennis for the rest of his life…I plan to.” As a matter of fact Chris started playing when he was 10 years old and he got a Jack Kramer racquet for his birthday and he plans on playing “until I can no longer walk.”
Alex Meyer is another player who loves the game. Alex’s ranking – 487 Nationally in the Boy’s 16’s – pales in comparison with his dad’s former ranking – #83 in the world, but make no mistake, Alex can hit the ball. Alex won the Boy’s 16 Singles and I was particularly impressed with his great reflexes around the net. Rick’s net play helped him win an ATP doubles title in Napa, California with Chris Mayotte. Rick also won a Singles title in Sofia, Bulgaria. Alex remembers his first tournament, a level 3 round robin at the Saw Mill Club where he came in second. Alex also remembers when he was little and “I would high 5 the ball at the net.” Alex and Rick often talk about tennis goals together.
Luc Cianfarani of Saratoga started playing on his own. It all started very casually. He remembers walking to the neighborhood park with his dad and hitting together “all good fun.” He signed up for his first tournament by himself. “He only needed me for the ride to the match” says father Remo Cianfarani. “It was a good learning experience for him and motivated him to practice more.” Remo started playing when he was 8 or 9 and played casually throughout his youth. He grew up in Italy, so he was able to play year round. He played lots of tournament during his teenage years but, due to injuries, he lost focus on the game. “I still love the game and enjoy a casual game from time to time.”
There were many other father/son tennis families at the tournament. This article contains a sampling of them. Feel free to relay your family tennis stories to us for a follow up posting.