Mardy's Charity event was this weekend
Charity begins at home for Vero Beach's Mardy Fish
By FRANK O. SCHAEFFER
December 11, 2005
VERO BEACH — Ask Mardy Fish's coach Todd Martin about the most important tennis match of the Olympic silver medalists' 2005 season and the response might be surprising.
No, it wasn't the French or U.S. Opens where a frustrating and painful wrist injury led to two early exits and a pair of surgeries that ended Fish's season.
Instead, Martin points to Saturday's charity exhibition to benefit the Adopt-A-Family Project at The Sea Oaks Tennis Club in Vero Beach.
"In some ways, it's more important," Martin said. "While he wouldn't be in a position to help these families if not for the Olympics or the U.S. Open, very few of our efforts on the tennis court will ever be as important."
Saturday's exhibition was part of a weekend of events by Fish, a Vero Beach native, to raise money for the Adopt-A-Family Project, a Christian-based charity in Vero Beach.
The organization, founded in 1997, helps needy families during the holidays by giving them money to buy food, clothing or small gifts for their children at Christmas.
Adopt-A-Family Project President Tim Bruggeman said since Fish signed on four years ago, the organization has gone from helping 15 to 20 families each year to helping 60 to 80 families. Bruggeman said the organization raised $9,000 just during Thursday night's auction of tennis memorabilia.
The auction, along with Friday's pro-am at Orchard Island, a youth clinic Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon's exhibitions all benefit the Adopt-A-Family Project. Fish, Martin and former ATP touring pros Scott Humphries and Thomas Blake, older brother of tennis star James Blake, played in the exhibitions.
"Growing up, I never would have thought I would have the influence to be able to help people like this," Blake said. "It's pretty simple. All we have to do is give our time, so to be able to have that affect on people's lives is pretty incredible."
Meanwhile, Fish has big plans for 2006 — both on and off the court.
On the court, the 24-year-old says he will make his return to the ATP Tour on Jan. 29 at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championship. Off the court, Fish is looking to make next year's charity weekend bigger and better — including adding a concert to draw more people.
"Tennis has given me so much," Fish said. "I'm thankful to be in a position to help others, especially here in Vero Beach. This is local and that's why I stamped my name to it. It's all about raising money. The more money we raise, the more families we can help."