img_0147The night before we held the second annual Thanking Our Troops Through Tennis at Joint Base San Antonio – Randolph, we met Jim Timmons and 9 players from the Trinity University Men’s Tennis Team for a reception at the San Antonio Country Club.  We were honored to meet the team and some really great people who pledged their time and donations to T3.  Thank you Jim for setting that up.  Butch Newman, Lisa Westerguard, Trey Foster, Richard Walthal, Peter Olsen, Kathryn and Patrick Lutz, Marion Bell, and Mr. and Mrs. Brad Nabers were all in attendance.

Sometimes things just have a way of working out.  In order to get onto a military base, Dickie needs to submit names with tons of information at least one week in advance.  If you happen to be a foreign national, that wait time is usually double.  How incredibly lucky for T3 that Harold and Karen Rogg were cleared in less than 24 hours.  Harold and Karen ran the registration desk in a seamless fashion, handed out and collected surveys, took down banners, set up, cleaned up and in general, were AMAZING!  Thank you both from the bottom of our hearts.  You two made the day fun as well.

img_0047We met Alan Waterman last year when he worked the USO lunch/snack tent.  He was generous enough to come back and help again this year.  Alan is a huge supporter of T3 all year, and we are so lucky that we have him in the T3 family.

The Trinity University Men’s Tennis Team joined us on the courts for the afternoon.  I can’t explain to you how much it means to us to have young men such as the Trinity boys helping with our event. They add a whole new level of enthusiasm to the drills and games.  The little ones and especially the juniors are able to connect with them, and they are witness to what can happen when you work hard at both a sport and academics.  The boys are smart, great tennis players, witty, polite and super respectful.  Kudos to their parents and to them for being so successful.  We wish them nothing but continued success and even brighter futures ahead.  Thank you gentlemen for all you’ve done for T3!

img_0095Kevin Lee, Austin Crist, Clark Rivers, Wilson Lambeth, Liam Crawley and Tilden Oliver.

We missed our T3 photographers Ken Munson and Trevor Chan.  If the pictures are less than great, know that it was me behind a borrowed camera, trying to recreate the magic that both Ken and Trevor are so good at capturing. [Pictures will be uploaded soon!]

Once again Steve and Mario Contardi joined us at Randolph.  I’ve said this before, and I’ll keep saying it, an event is only as good as its organizers, and thanks to the Contardis, whenever they volunteer, the event is the best run event ever.  Steve works the courts with his bullhorn, ensuring that we all move smoothly from one group to the next. Mario is tireless making sure people who’ve never played manage to connect with a ball or two, as well as making it fun for those who need more of a challenge.  Thank you both.  We are touched and amazed by your dedication.

img_0036While politics have nothing to do with what we do, our friend Mark Wirth (Hot Choklit) keeps me on my political toes.  Not only does he work the participants on the court, he is constantly making sure I’m on my political game.  If I had a favorite Republican, he’d be it. (Maybe he runs a close second to Tina Fey….).  Thank you Mark, we truly appreciate all you do for us and for Blue Sky.  You make it fun and we look forward to you attending every event….no pressure!

How do you know you’re in Texas?  When you drive on the Toll Road, you see a store for Guns, one for Boots and another for Rosalinda’s Tacquitos, all in the same strip mall.  Flying back to San Antonio to reconnect with Dickie and to help drive The Beast back home is always an interesting, albeit exhausting experience.  This year I arrivedon Thursday night and was able to witness first hand, for the first time the John Newcombe Tennis Legends Fantasy Camp.

img_0093Dickie has been attending this camp forever, and I’ve been hearing all about it not only from him, but from the participants he’s introduced me to over the years.  The camp is the brainchild of Steve Contardi, who, after witnessing a Baseball Fantasy Camp wondered why the same format couldn’t be done for tennis.  The result is an incredible six days of drafting teams, practicing, playing and drilling, not to mention, drinking and trash talking.  Steve an his son Mario work alongside the Legends and Ranch pros to make the event one of the best times you can have on a tennis court. The guy who attend come from all over the world, and some have even been to every single one of the 28 camps….think about that!

The pros who work the camp are in the Who’s Who of tennis royalty.  John Newcombe, Rod Laver, Fred Stolle, Roy Emerson, Ken Rosewall, Owen Davidson, Cliff Drysdale, Tony Roche, Guillermo Vilas, Marty Reissen, Brian Gottfried, Ross Case, Manolo Santana, Luke and Murphy Jensen, Ricky Leach, Geoff Masters, Mal Anderson, Mark Woodford, Charlie Pasarell and I’m sure left off some guys.  Campers pay a fee to spend a week in the company of these legends.  They drink beers together, call each other “mate!” and actually feel like real players.  The levels are varied, as are the ages.  Doc is 90, and then there are the newbies, those young enough to still remember their SAT’s.  Teams are drafted and headed up by a Legend, and his “staff” of other Legends.  Larry Star is the legendary trainer who, who along with his cohort Jason Palmateer, tries to keep them all healthy and then attempts to put them back together, ready to return to their real worlds.

img_0098A special thanks to Dickie’s longtime and dear friend Brian Gottfried for helping us out once again.  We have a picture in our office back home of Brian and Dickie at the NCAA finals in 1972.  It’s a black and white photo and the boys are sporting long blonde hair and mega-watt smiles.  Years later, the hair is a little bit shorter and maybe not as blonde, but the smiles and enthusiasm for tennis and their friendship is still there.  It’s indeed a rare and lucky treasure to have such a friendship throughout one’s life.  Thank you Brian.

I arrived Thursday night, the last night and in the middle of the awards ceremony.  Plaques are handed out to the winners, jokes are told (some too disgusting for even me to repeat) and some poor guy will wear the “Horse’s Ass” award and the “Dick Head” Award.  These “trophies” are to be worn and resemble exactly what they sound like.  Not something you want to brag about.  It is a shared camaraderie that extends throughout the year.  Campers come because a friend recommended it, or because of their connection to a Legend.  Every year there’s a waiting list.  Steve is hard pressed to turn anyone away and that’s a testament to the success of the event.

img_0142There’s a coed event in March, and oh, by the way, the October Fantasy camp is a guys only venue.  I would strongly suggest that significant others stay away.  It’s a testosterone-filled week that gives new meaning to the phrase Male Bonding.  Dickie has always called it the “Ultimate Boys Week Out.”

Thank you Colonel Jaime Houston for your moving tribute to all the vets present at the camp, and for bringing awareness to T3 and what we’re trying to do.  Ft. Jackson won’t be the same without you.  Luckily, through our tennis connection, we will always be in touch!

Another added bonus to the Texas trip was getting to see Sarah and Randall.  We spent the night at Sarah’s new house and LOVED it.  Good to see you both! xox

img_0052And so we wrap up another T3 event.  We’ve made the decision to change the name from Thanking Our Troops through Tennis to “Boots on the Court.”  Please look for a new Face Book page group, same as the old one, just a different name.  A huge thank you to Diana Walker for all her help in making the new logo and for always supporting us.  She is not only a great tennis player, but a great friend as well.

We’re already looking forward to the next Boots on the Court event at McDill Air Force Base on December 5, 2015.  Please come and join us!

Once again, thank you to everyone!