Photo: (From left to right) Philadelphia-area teaching professional Jarrod Grant, 11-time Grand Slam Winner Lisa Raymond, and Bob Strimel
Written by Bob Strimel
I decided to work on my birthday. That’s no revelation to anyone who has done the same. Except this birthday fell on a Saturday, and who would blame me for deciding to do something other than work.
My job that morning was to set up my table of tennis products at a tennis tournament, to market to the players who would benefit from playing in our footwear, using our racquets, and wearing our apparel.
What a fun job to have, what a great career, more on this later.
This event was a father/son doubles national tournament with fathers ranging in age from their 30s to 80s and sons as young as 11 to 50-plus. From all over the country they gathered to be the last team standing. The competition was intense, but the camaraderie was inspirational. Soon I became more of a spectator than salesman interacting with the family’s who were there supporting their fathers, husbands, sons, spouses, and grandchildren. How lucky these sons are to play with their fathers. And how proud the dads must be competing with their sons on the same team!
I found myself telling stories of playing with my Dad who taught me how to hold a racquet at 6-years-old. And all the memories of what my dad did for me growing up. And inspiring me to earn a living in the sport he and I both loved. And silently wanting to ask him many questions like why we never played in a father/son tournament together? Or where did he find all that time to be president of the Little League, or president of the Philadelphia Tennis Association, and founder of the Gold Cup junior program?
And as a father of three kids and devoted husband to mom. And a holder of numerous patents including inventing a tennis ball testing machine? Who in this day and age has time for a little bit of any of that?
On this day of work, on my birthday, at a national father/son tennis tournament, I received a gift I never expected: to reconnect with my dad and have my own father/son tennis lesson.