biggest fanBy NIKKI ROWELL,
Grandfather and grandson become traveling partners enjoying tennis tournaments
With an ice chest full of sports drinks and water and all the necessary equipment loaded into their car, a grandfather and grandson set out most weekends.
Their destination? A tennis tournament.
Madison Central High School student Anderson Rings travels during the season each weekend all over the surrounding areas to play in tennis tournaments. His grandfather, Van Anderson, is always along for the ride.
Anderson’s love for tennis trickled down from his grandmother SuSu, to his mother Ellen, and then to Anderson.
“When Anderson started getting old enough, we thought it would be a good sport for him to try,” he said.
He started taking lessons at six years old.
“It’s just such a fun sport,” Anderson said. “I love the competition and meeting new people and traveling new places. It’s so much fun.”
The grandfather and grandson duo have traveled to Hattiesburg, Brookhaven and more.
Every weekend, they hit the road by 7 a.m. on Saturday.
“Sometimes on Friday afternoons,” Van said. “He’s always spent the weekend with me.”
“They’ve got the tournaments down pat. They know how to do them,” Ellen said.
Each week, his grandmother gets his favorite water jug ready, packs an ice chest full of sports drinks and water, gets his cooling towel prepared in the freezer and packs a bag of snacks.
They load down the car with all of this, plus the equipment and clothes.
These little trips have kept the two close over the years.
“We’ve always had a real close relationship,” Van said. “We started off farming together. He’d go to my farm. He started fishing and then tennis. Just being together with him, having a close relationship, is invaluable.”
Anderson said he has learned so much from his grandfather and loves the trips they take.
“It’s something fun to do on the weekends,” he said. “And I get to spend it with great people.”
In addition to playing the local tournaments, Anderson also plays on the varsity tennis team at Madison Central.
The incoming junior spends much of his time outside of the classroom practicing.
He plays with the school team from February to May, but the tournaments he participates in year-round.
During the school year, he practices every day. When school is out, he practices three to four days a week.
Ellen and Van agree that Anderson is dedicated.
“He is self-motivated,” she said of not having to wake him up on the weekends for games or push him to practice.
“I’d love to continue it as a hobby. It’s a lifelong sport,” Anderson said.