By Danielle Elliot
When Debbie Humphries started playing doubles with Justin Milne, in September 2002, she knew he was perfect for her daughter. The only problem was convincing Devon.
“I said ‘No way. He’s old and has no hair!’” Devon recalls, laughing as she glances over at Justin.
Seven years later, she seems to have gotten past those two small roadblocks. Devon, 26, and Justin, 34, are newlyweds, playing for a national title at the 2009 USTA Mixed National Championships in Las Vegas. They married on July 11, 2009 in Thousand Lakes, N.Y.
“I just hate that my mom was right,” Devon said, while laughing. “That after all the years of trying to find someone [for myself], she just went out and found the perfect person for me she knew.”
Humphries mentioned Justin to Devon several times before taking matters into her own hands. On a weekend when Devon was home from college, she invited Justin, who had recently relocated to Maryland for a job, over for dinner after a match. Devon started to suspect something was up when she noticed the dinner table was only set for two.
“Then, when Justin came in, my mom just real quick served the steak and pasta and said, ‘Well, I’m off to the movies!’ and she ran out the door. She had completely set us up,” she says. Justin insists he was also surprised.
The evening only grew funnier, as later on Devon attempted to set the single Justin up with other girls at a party. “She was in denial,” Justin jokes, “she really wanted to be with me but was just pretending.” Within a month, the games were over and the two were dating.
The pair had no trouble finding common ground in the relationship. Both grew up in tennis families and went on to play in college, Devon at Roanoke College, Justin at Gettysburg College. On family vacations, the Humphries girls face off against Devon’s father and Justin. To date, the guy’s have won every match.
And so it seems only fitting that tennis worked its way into their wedding. The rehearsal dinner, thrown by Justin’s parents, featured tennis décor, with place cards cut to look like tennis balls and centerpieces made of flowers surrounded by tennis ball wreaths. After the ceremony, as the couple turned to walk down the aisle, the guests – many former and current teammates - surprised them with a shower of Nerf tennis balls.
“We turned around and everyone was chucking them at us!” Devon says. “They nailed us. We had no idea it was coming.” Even the groom’s cake followed the theme, shaped into a giant Prince racquet surrounded by 6 tennis balls.
Justin planned the entire wedding, but Devon had to put her foot down when he tried to schedule it around the women’s, men’s and mixed USTA tournaments. In the end, they missed the women’s districts and mixed sectionals while honeymooning in St. Lucia.
Yet tennis was never far from their minds. “We were constantly checking in,” says Justin. “It was the first time, in all our years together, that we missed districts,” Devon adds, “and that was really tough.”
Luckily, a summer wedding could never interfere with the USTA National tournaments. The pair are in Las Vegas representing the USTA Mid-Atlantic, out of Columbia, Md., at their third national championship.
“We haven’t played together yet,” Justin says. “But,” Devon chimes in, “we might pair up if we make it to the finals on Sunday.”