I have been thinking a lot about tennis lately…probably because the US Open is happening right now! Sometimes I feel like tennis is literally the glue that holds our family together.
If it weren’t for tennis, Jason and I might have never met. Jason and his brother were recruited by the tennis coach at UW-Eau Claire to play tennis on the team there. We met the day that he moved into the dorms. I had never watched a match before in my life…didn’t even know how the scoring worked. The US Open was on then too. I clearly remember watching tennis with Jason and him teaching me about the sport. Pete Sampras v Michael Chang….love me some Pete!
Jason dropped the UWEC tennis team his Sophomore year. Tough Computer Science classes and a girlfriend were taking up all his time, but he continued to play tournaments during the summers…Red Wing and Hastings mostly…and I loved watching my guy play. His passion for the sport was tangible and he was clearly in his element.
After we graduated and got married it didn’t take him long to hook up with the tennis community here in the Twin Cities. He played on a couple of city leagues first I think…Bloomington and Eagan. Then branched out into USTA leagues. I carted the kids around to watch him as much as I could 🙂 He loved it when “his cheering section” was there.
I’m not gonna lie we had more than one argument about how much tennis he played…but I also understood that tennis was his outlet…his passion…his exercise…his social activity. Tennis filled his cup so that he had more of himself to give to his family.
He also loved sharing tennis with the kids. One year for Easter we got them a portable tennis net and from that moment on “driveway tennis” was a favorite past-time. The net was used so much that it was never put away. We slid it into the garage in between our cars. Only problem with that was I had to make sure it was slid tight against Jason’s car when I backed out or I would run over the back leg…there was swearing more than once when I would forget!
We made so many good friends through tennis. They loved it when the kids and I would come and watch Jason play. When Jason was sick, he would light up when I would tell him that a tennis friend was coming to visit. He would just love reminiscing about past matches. He couldn’t remember what happened yesterday, or what was going to happen tomorrow, but a match 10 years ago he could pull out of his head like nobody’s business.
Four-ish years ago, when I started working at the health club in the Tennis Center the first thing that tennis players would ask me when they would come in would be “oh, do you play tennis?”. I would say “not really, but my husband does”. And when I would tell them that my husband is Jason Fregien many of them would have tales of matches they had played against Jason and what a great player he was.
Seth and Levi loved my new job because it meant they could start taking tennis classes. I learned how to play tennis too and even got to play in a Mixed Doubles tournament with Jason once. I still don’t play tennis very well, but 4 years of working in a Tennis Center means that I can “talk tennis” pretty well…and that is invaluable to me right now because it is my connection with my teenage boys. It gives us common ground. We can talk racquets…strings…players…strategies…and I feel like they value my opinion!
I remember Jason and I having a discussion once about how much money we spend on tennis. It’s not a cheap sport…especially to play all year. The line item of our budget marked “Tennis” has always had a pretty hefty number in it, but you know what? It is well worth it for all that our family has gained. Even the majority of trips both as a couple and as a family have come about thanks to tennis. Jason has played in National tournaments in Palm Springs, Charleston, Mobile, and Orlando. In fact, I think it was almost exactly 8-ish years ago that Jason and I were heading to Charleston where we both saw the ocean for the first time together. Priceless memories…worth every penny.