Our Serve: Defying the Odds
This issue again highlights our annual “Champions of Tennis” award winners, honoring the often-unsung heroes of the sport. These are incredible people doing some incredible things in tennis. Yet in many ways, these are stories of what hundreds, even thousands of people do every day in this industry.
We started these awards in 2000, and it’s fair to say we’ve honored at least a couple of hundred people over the years. The fact is, though, we’ll never get to all of those who deserve to be recognized for their great work in promoting and growing this sport — those who continue to defy the odds, defy the economy, defy the naysayers, by driving forward with their dreams and their passion.
As I write this, though — now that all the other pages of this issue are finished, and I’m left trying to fill this final space — I can’t help but think of my parents, and especially my 96-year-old father, “Red.” He lived a life defying the odds. Yet through all of the hardships, the incredible change he faced in the world, he always managed to push his dream forward. For him, it was the dream of family, of providing a stable life for us, of making our lives better than his.
My parents have had nothing to do with the tennis industry, except that they did provide us with some old wood racquets when we were growing up, and encouraged us to go hit on the school courts up the street, probably to keep us from annoying them more than anything else. But they also encouraged us to play sports and be active, something my sisters and I continue to do in our lives. And they encouraged a sense of responsibility, respect, dedication and always putting forward your best effort — again, lifelong lessons that their kids learned well.
Very shortly, probably by the time you read this, my father will have taken his last breath in the house, and home, he and my mother built together 65 years ago. His story, like that of so many others, may seem ordinary. But I assure you, he is a true champion, and the lessons he and my mother taught us will always be with me.
We come across “champions” every day — we work with them, live with them, play tennis with them, teach them and are taught by them. And while we may publish our “Champions of Tennis” only once a year, every time is the right time to recognize, appreciate and honor these champions in our lives.
See all articles by Peter Francesconi
About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of RSI magazine.