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Tennis Anyone
June 2006 Article

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Pass It On!

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John Mills, USPTA

In the 60's I was just entering Jr. High School and started to play tennis. Of course, I was terrible, but I loved it. My father passed away when I was in 1st grade, so my mom filled the shoes of both parents. We were on a fixed income so money was scarce, however, I never felt poor.

We went grocery shopping once a week to a small family owned grocery-store called Mac's. They allowed us to charge our food and pay monthly. I only knew the owners as Mr. and Mrs. Mack, plus the butcher's name was Tony. They would always ask me about my tennis and tell me that they could not wait for me to win a trophy because they wanted to display it in their store. I took this to heart and really worked hard towards this goal!

It made my tennis elevate to another level, plus it was fun! Sure enough, when I won my first tournament, they displayed my trophy. It made me very proud. They use to stick candy and even steaks in our grocery bags. I continued to bring my trophies there for many years. They would brag on me to all their customers. I cannot express how those relatively small acts of kindness had such a positive influence on my life. I was blessed with so many supportive people along the way, from friends of the family who offered me their tennis courts to practice on, to great coaches. One tennis instructor drove me to Memorial Park every day in the summer to help him, and he gave me more opportunity to learn. There are so many ways to mentor and support young people and we should take the opportunity to do so when we can.

I am entering my 34th year of teaching tennis and I still love it and feel I have made a positive influence on hundreds of students. I know this because I receive many thank you notes of appreciation. Over the years, as the kids develop in their game, they are also developing life skills and becoming young adults and future leaders in government and business. I feel, as a teacher, that I have a responsibility to help and support them in my own small way. The biggest compliment is teaching the kids of my ex-students. I think about Mac's grocery often and I plan to continue to pass it on!

Good luck on the courts!

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This column is copyrighted by John Mills, all rights reserved.

John Mills' experience includes four years as head pro at the Windemere Racquet & Swim Club, where he was responsible for organization of all tennis activities at the club. John also played college tennis at the University of Houston and has spent 20 years teaching tennis at the Memorial Park Tennis Center, the Pasadena Racquet Club, and as the head pro at the Bay Area Racquet Club.


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