Japanese Gardens | Mobile, Alabama
Walt is the sweet man who taught me how to play tennis. When I first took up the sport (over 10 years ago now!), I was between my junior and senior years in college. I had never played tennis, never excelled at any sport (I was usually last picked for the team in P.E.) and had no idea it would be something I’d stick with beyond that first summer. My sister, cousins and I signed up for a clinic at the Mobile Tennis Center just for fun and that’s how I met Walt.
I’m pretty sure I was as beginner as a beginner can be when I first took up tennis. When I say I had zero tennis experience, I mean ZERO. I remember at my first solo lesson with Walt he told me to put my racquet down. I thought he was joking, but he wasn’t. I had to learn to catch the ball with my hands first. The theory was to get that hand-eye coordination down before we got to hitting (yes…I was THAT uncoordinated). I’m sure this looked humorous to the casual passer by, but I could tell Walt had a method. Gradually, we progressed to me actually hitting the ball and in what seemed like no time (although in reality it was over a few months) I could actually hit the ball back and forth over the net. Over the years, I surprised myself with tennis. The idea of playing a real match used to terrify me, but Walt kept pushing me and I kept improving. I remember the first time someone told me I had a nice forehand. At first I almost laughed, simply because I NEVER in a million years thought I’d get a compliment like that, but my reply was simply, “It’s all because of Walt” and that is the truth. Walt always teases me that he wishes he had video from those early lessons (I’m grateful he doesn’t, although it would be a great testament to his coaching skills and his patience). From that summer in 2005, I grew to love the sport of tennis and every week, on Thursday night, I look forward to hitting with Walt and the ladies on my league team at clinic and for our matches.
Why did I tell you all this about tennis? Well, it’s because it tells you who Walt is and why he is such a special person. It also explains why when Walt told me that his wife, Juli, wanted to talk to me about taking some family photos for them, I was both excited and honored. I’ve watched their granddaughter, Catherine, a frequent visitor to the tennis courts, grow up over the past 10 years (she’s now driving age!) and I’ve heard so much about their family over the years that I felt I already knew everyone. The day we originally planned this shoot was cold and rainy, so we picked a new date and, thankfully, we were blessed with the kind of beautiful weather this family deserved for their session. This is the first extended family portrait they’ve had since the birth of their three younger grandchildren (all boys…Catherine is now outnumbered) and I loved capturing these sweet moments for them. This was truly a joyful session and I am so excited to share some of my favorites with you today. Enjoy! 🙂