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Karen Dale



Children: Andrew, 16; Haley, 14

Photo of Karen Dale and Son
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Tell us your own story of tennis and what makes it a special part of your life.

I started playing tennis in 2008 after my youngest started kindergarten. I started as a 2.5 League player and loved the sport from the minute I picked up the racquet. I love the competition of the game, and I love the social aspect, as well. My best friends are my tennis ladies!


I have played on as many as 25 teams in a season! That was, of course, before my son, Andrew, picked up a racquet. Now life revolves around his tennis. He plays on the ITF junior circuit and has been to more places in the world than I have! It has been quite an adventure for our family.  This experience has given us great perspective on life and the world around us.


Why do you think it’s important for your son to play tennis?

Drew is a perfectionist. He gets straight A’s and plays a mean piano concerto! Perfection doesn’t usually equate to tennis. Tennis is about finding a way to win, even when there seems to be no way. You can have the most perfect strokes, the perfect serve, the best strategy, and your opponent will somehow find a way to beat you. This has been the hardest lesson for Drew and, I do believe for most players, to learn.


Tennis has helped Drew understand to respect any opponent who steps on the court. And this lesson has translated to life very well. We have also come to understand that most of the time you learn more from your losses than from your wins. Another great life lesson!


What are some of your notable tennis accomplishments? How about Drew’s?

I used to joke with Drew that I was in the Top 10 of 3.5 players in the nation. That was back when he was 12, playing up in the 14s. He used to get so mad at me! I played one or two tournaments and won, and that’s how I got my ranking then.


But the real accomplishments have been on Drew’s part. He won his first tournament in April 2013 at the Ida Lee Recreation Center in Leesburg, Va. He went on to play national championships, winning titles in Virginia, Georgia and Indiana. Internationally, Drew has titles in the Dominican Republic, Bermuda, the Bahamas and Canada. He was a finalist in the Boys’ 14s Easter Bowl and the Boys’ 16s International Spring Championships. He came in third place in the Boys’ 16s Easter Bowl last year, and he also received the tournament’s Sportsmanship Award.


He finished in sixth place at Kalamazoo in the Boys’ 16s National Championships last summer.  He recently competed in the USTA’s Spring Team Championship, where he played in the Boys’ 18s division. He went undefeated in singles, and his team took the title in Mobile, Ala. He is currently ranked No. 2 in the nation in the USTA Boys’ 16s and No. 1 in the Mid-Atlantic section in the same division. His current ITF ranking is 250, which fluctuates weekly. His overall win-loss record in USTA is 401-175.


What has tennis taught you and your family?

Tennis has taught us so much. As players, we have learned about tenacity, focus and resilience.  We have all been in a match that, for one reason or another, isn’t going our way, and we have found the path to victory. It is in these moments that we grow as players and as humans.


As a tennis parent, I have learned patience. I have learned when to guide and when to be silent.  When Drew comes off the court with a loss, I have learned that talking about the match isn’t the right thing to do at that moment.


We have tried to focus on the things that matter in life. We don’t focus on rankings, but we focus on developing Drew as a player. We also focus on developing him as a good human.


As parents, my husband and I always send the same message to our kids, and it is timeless.  Wins and losses, they will come and go, but you will be remembered for how you treat others the most.




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