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Florida tennis community, National Championships fuel military wife

November 16, 2013 11:03 AM
Photo Credit: Juan Ocampo
Thirty-six-year-old mother of four Lauren Haack enjoys tennis as a way to stay fit and keep focused while her husband, Mike, serves in Afghanistan.
By Sarah Gulbrandsen, special to USTA.com 
Traveling to Tucson, Ariz., across the country from Gulf Breeze, Fla., there is a team with heart competing at the USTA League 18 & Over 7.0 Mixed National Championships. One of its members, Lauren Haack, pulls quadruple duty as a mother, veterinarian, tennis player and military wife to her husband, Mike, a major who is currently serving in Afghanistan.
“This USTA team is my support network,” said Haack. “I love playing a competitive sport, it's super fun, and super stress-relieving. I get very into the game, and it’s the only time I don’t think about my husband, my family, me. I just think about tennis. 
“I don’t know what I’d do without tennis and my team. My team’s support has helped me stay sane through everything.” 
Having deployed this past June, Maj. Mike Haack will not return until the summer of 2014. Maj. Haack has been with the Armed Forces for 15 years. While he is gone, Lauren on her own raises four children, one of whom requires extra care due to his special needs.
“All four of my children are so brave with everything they have to deal with,” said the 36-year-old. “My kids help me all the time with so many things. If I were a kid and had to go through what they do, I would be a mess. I’m a proud mom. My kids have been through six deployments. Most were only three or four months, but now he is gone for 12 months.”
Luckily, Haack is not alone in her day-to-day endeavors. She receives help from an entire community.
“My mom, Maggie, has been a huge help with my children,” said Haack. “In fact, she is at my house now watching them while I’m here. She helps me so much with them; I can play tennis, and still know my kids are cared for. She makes so much possible.”
What’s more, Haack has found a kinship with her USTA Florida mates in her two years on the squad. Her team captain, David Jenkins, is himself an active duty military Master Sergeant. Always having people around who care – and a game to share – has been a gift.
“I don’t think my family would be able to manage without tennis,” said Haack. “The Club II in Gulf Breeze, Fla., is our home away from home. Our kids will come to the club and watch us practice all the time and be our cheerleaders.”
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