Recently, a friend and student of mine died in a car accident. While on vacation, he, his wife and his dog were killed when they were struck by a drunk driver going the wrong way. My friend's name was Gary and his son is Daryn.
I taught Daryn tennis while he was in high school. He started late but managed to make a very tough tennis team. He is now in college and is constantly improving his game. Both he and his dad came to an adult, Saturday morning drill for years. Gary was very athletic and would constantly take rolls and tumble to get balls back. He was a lot of fun to watch and he always had a smile on his face. What I'll really miss is seeing them drive up and leave together and play very competitive tennis with and against each other. They both showed up smiling and left smiling. They could hit with each other for hours. I believe that tennis was a great way for these two to communicate, add another dimension to a great and long lasting bond, stay in shape and have a great time together.
I can still go and hit with my daughter and can remember all the great times that I had playing, traveling with her to tournaments and coaching her. The time I spent with her, because of tennis, was great quality time and in a lot of ways it taught us both a lot about each other and for me how to be a better parent. Playing with her as a mixed partner is always a special time for me. When we get together there is always a tennis story to remember.
I have often compared the lessons learned in competition as a means of helping juniors prepare for dealing with life and how to handle situations that they will encounter down the road. In addition, I have seen tennis act as a bonding agent for parents and their kids. It is a common denominator that they can share on into adulthood. I love to see parents pairing with their kids in tournaments or playing family matches on the weekends. I would like to remind you to take your kids out and play tennis with them as much as possible, you will not regret it. If you don't play, then take advantage of those tournament trips and lessons to which you take them. Spend some time learning about the game so that you can talk to them about their matches. This doesn't mean you should try and coach them--all they really need is support and understanding.
I hope that when Darren's life settles down he will return to playing tennis again. His buddies on Saturday morning miss him.
Finally, please do not drink and drive, what a horrible loss of lives taken way too soon.