Taco Bell Western Slope Open a time for Lamette clan to play together
By ALLEN GEMAEHLICH
Tennis started out as an activity for the children; it’s become a family thing for the Lamettes.
“When we first moved here, I got the kids involved at the bubble (Junction Indoor Tennis Center),” Leah Lamette said. “They started having adult beginner lessons. That’s when I first started playing. Junction is a great place to play tennis.”
Larry and Leah Lamette and their two children moved to Grand Junction 11/2 years ago when Larry took a job with Tusca II, Inc. They’re playing in the Taco Bell Western Slope
Open together for the first time this week.
Leah has played in the tournament before, but Larry and Melissa are playing for the first time. Their 5-year-old son, Larison, is at the matches but is more interested in playing with his Spider-Man action figures.
“We wanted something to look forward to as a family,” Larry said. “On Thanksgiving Day, we had what we call our ‘major.’ We didn’t know anything about tennis at all. We just go out to a tennis court and I beat her and I called it our first major.”
“When he won, it becomes a major,” Leah said. “Now it’s an annual thing.”
Leah avenged her ‘major’ loss with a win last Thanksgiving, making Larry realize he needed to work on his game.
“I had to start taking lessons and get better because my daughter and Leah are so much better than me,” Larry said. “I keep hitting it out of bounds and they don’t want to play with me.”
Larry would often talk to Leah about her matches, trying to offer the right advice.
“I told him it’s hard to look from the outside and critique somebody,” Leah said. “It starts getting a little annoying.”
Larry is finding out how hard it is to execute tennis shots with a little pressure this week.
“I was so nervous,” Larry said of his first match. “I tried to put on a veil and pretend I wasn’t.
Having kids and working all the time, you don’t get the competitive juices going much. It’s really exhilarating because you’re out there and competing again. Even yesterday, I was nervous because Melissa was playing. I didn’t want to mess up.
“The tournament is fun. Everybody has a great attitude. It’s great.”
His first match with Melissa was against the Grand Junction mayor, Bruce Hill, and his daughter, Avery.
“I had butterflies,” Larry said. “She tells me where I need to be on the court.”
The Lamettes won 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 and took second place in the father-daughter bracket.
Melissa, 8, won the girls 10-under singles title and won the mother/daughter 11-under doubles title with Leah.
“I like playing with them,” Melissa said. “I get to spend more time with them.”
Although they’ve been winning, it’s more about spending time together for Mom and Dad, too.
“You know how you get involved in something and your spouse can’t relate to it?” Leah asked. “Now that he plays, we can talk about it. I can accept (his advice) better. It’s something we can do together.”
“For me, it’s always about the journey,” Larry said. “I get a huge thrill watching my family try to execute, try to excel. I tell them, ‘You can do it if you try.’ When they are successful, it’s that much better.
“When I coach my kids, it’s about starting here (hand by the floor) and finish here (hand up above his head). As long as you enjoy the experience of improving.”
And it’s not just tennis with this family.
“I believe in being a full-contact dad,” Larry said. “We coach together, we golf together, we play tennis together, we all have wicked jump shots.”