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Mardy Fish won't be able to play at coming fundraiser

STORY BY MICHELLE GENZ, (Week of November 15, 2012)
Photo of Mardy Fish

Vero kids know Mardy Fish has a big heart – his foundation has been funding after-school programs for 2,000 schoolchildren here.

But that same heart caused him to miss his big moment at the U.S. Open in September.  And now, Mardy Fish, ranked last year No. 1 in the U.S., can’t take the court for his planned December fundraiser.

Fish, still hampered by an irregular heartbeat, just isn’t up to playing yet, says his dad, Windsor tennis pro Tom Fish.

That means the tennis exhibition and children’s tennis tournament won’t be held this year, limiting the weekend events to a small fund-raising get-together and game of golf at Windsor. It will be limited in scope, nothing like the traditional kids’ clinic plus the big public tennis exhibition that last year included Serena Williams and other top celebrity players.

That event, along with a cocktail party and silent auction, was held at Grand Harbor’s tennis facility and its large two-level clubhouse.

“We’re limited this year,” says Tom Fish. “We just don’t have a venue big enough to invite the public.”

“Nobody feels sicker about this than Mardy,” the senior Fish says. He and wife Sally are obviously concerned for Mardy’s condition, cardiac tachycardia, though Mardy tries to downplay it with them and with the public.

“There’s stuff he doesn’t even tell us because he doesn’t want us to worry,” says Tom with a weak laugh of understanding.

He says the public’s continued support for the foundation – even without getting to see the hometown star play – would cheer up the Fish family immensely.

 “Mardy has a passion for this foundation,” says Tom Fish. “We’re doing some great things making a difference in these kids’ lives and we really want to keep getting the word out. We’re hoping people will go to the website to donate.”

Fish says that a strong show of support on the part of the public by contributing to the foundation on-line would be “huge” for Mardy’s morale.

The good news is, Mardy is expected to be well enough to travel home for the weekend of Dec. 4 through 8.

“I wasn’t sure he’d be well enough to come.”

He’ll get to visit his beloved dachshunds, and more importantly, his new nephew, the one-year-old son of sister Meredith, also a tennis star when she lived in Vero. She and her family will be flying in from Indianapolis, their home.

In an effort to increase its percentage of revenues going to the school programs, this year the foundation already had scaled back by cutting out the cost of a public relations firm.

In doing so, it opted not to join Mardy’s best Vero friend, country singer Jake Owen, in the weekend long extravaganza, the Mardy Fish Tennis and Jake Owen Music Festival, that has taken place annually for years.

Instead, Owen will close out his national tour with a concert in Vero Dec. 15 at Holman stadium, raising money for both the Mardy Fish Foundation as well as St. Jude’s Hospital in Nashville, where Owen lives.

Fish, who lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Tracey, an attorney and jewelry designer, grew up with Owen. He went to St. Edward’s and Beachland elementary schools, then Gifford Middle and Vero Beach High School. 

His foundation raises money for equipment, supplies and staffing in each elementary school in the county.

As for Tom Fish, who had a pacemaker implanted last year, he is doing fine, he says.

Anyone wanting to donate online can visit