Support From the ‘Tennis Family’
One sunny Saturday morning in April, I received an email that made me sit back, sigh and stare at the screen. “Dear Family and Friends,” it began. “To keep you up to date on my health condition, I created a CaringBridge website …”
It was from Jaime Kaplan, a colleague in Macon, Ga., whom I had no idea was having health issues. I soon found out that she recently was diagnosed with leukemia.
Jaime is an amazing woman. A former tour player (she’s in the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame), she has been a tennis teaching pro and director, and she writes a regular tennis column for the local paper. She’s a huge advocate of community and recreational tennis, and a winner of the USTA’s Eve Kraft Community Service Award. We’d catch up with each other at industry events as best as we could … she would constantly be running into another seminar or workshop, to add to her knowledge of what she already does so well in Macon — deliver tennis to recreational players, particularly juniors.
Jaime recently went for her first week of chemo at Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University in Atlanta. She says in her online journal (caringbridge.org/visit/jaimekaplan) that her faith, family and friends are sustaining her through this time, and the outpouring, within days, of her first online post has been amazing. Thousands of people have visited her site, and many, many hundreds have left encouraging and loving messages for her in the guestbook.
It’s a reminder that for many of us, the people we meet through tennis are, and always will be, our “family” — celebrating our triumphs with us, consoling us when we don’t come out on the winning side, and supporting us unconditionally when we face tough and trying times.
Jaime is one of the bravest persons I know. She’s so incredibly upbeat. She writes about how, days before she went into Emory, her teams took titles at state championships, and how proud she is of all of her “kids.” Her journal emphasizes others, praising and thanking her friends, her family, her players, her doctors. I’m captivated by how positive she is as she starts this battle. And Jaime’s mantra, with which she ends each entry, is “BEAT LEUKEMIA!”
Her first journal post is telling: “I can’t finish ‘my story’ without a tennis metaphor. I’ve played Martina, Chris, and Steffi … tops in the world … who I hung in there against, but was defeated. Now, I have an opponent greater than them, yet I KNOW I can beat this opponent … I KNOW I will ‘win.’ I have all of you cheering for me and I love you.”
Like every one of Jaime’s friends, I wish there was more I could do. But I hope my support, love and appreciation for all she does will at least provide some help. I’m so honored to be a part of Jaime’s extended, and extensive, “tennis family.”
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About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of RSI magazine.