Jorge and Tami Florin
© Garrett Ellwood
Tami Florin plays tennis with her ring on.
© Garrett Ellwood
By John Freeman, special to USTA.com
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Wherever Tami and Jorge Florin go, eyes usually turn to Jorge’s shaved head and silvery, flowing beard.
After 16 years together, Tami has become used to hearing strangers blurt out, "Hey, it’s ZZ Top!"
If they only knew that her husband is a highly respected general surgeon in Orlando, Fla.
"When we first met, his beard was nicely shaved, trimmed close to the chin," said Tami. "I liked it that better way, but he likes it his way."
That would be very long, at least 18 inches or so, even longer after a few playful tugs.
"I try to pay our kids $100 to shave it off while he’s sleeping," said Tami. "But they keep saying, 'That’s not enough, Mom.'"
Competing for Florida in the USTA 4.5 Senior National Championships in Rancho Mirage, Tami was grateful Jorge’s surgical schedule allowed him to make the trip. The event marks Tami’s third trip to nationals as she puts another notch on a "Bucket List" that already includes the Boston Marathon and the Hawaii Ironman. They competed together in both events nearly a decade ago.
"I’m here to support Tami in every way I can," said Jorge. Besides, he said, "I’m not very good (at tennis)."
A registered nurse, Tami describes herself as "mostly a homemaker these days" for the couple’s six children. Still, planning several "his-and-her" fitness trips together every year has long been a shared passion.
"We’re both so busy, especially with his work and the kids," she said. "But we try not to forget that we’re partners to each other."
Of their long courtship before marriage, Tami recalled that she had two requests.
"I told Jorge I did want to marry him and that I wanted a diamond with a karat for each of the nine years we’d been together."
So that’s what she got – a very large diamond she wears everywhere, even on the court.
"It was painful," said Jorge, wincing slightly. "But worth every karat."