On the eve of Father’s Day, proud papa Rick Boysen and his daughter, Maya, gathered at their kitchen table in the family’s Indian Harbour Beach living room looking relaxed less than hour from taking to the courts at Kiwi Tennis Club.
Tennis is a passion this father-daughter duo share. They both compete under the Friday Night Lights at Kiwi, where Rick ranks as a top teaching professional at the club after an outstanding college career at Bowling Green State University. Maya, just shy of her 12th birthday in July, trains in the robust youth development program.
Rick talks shop about his college days and beyond, and Maya smiles, listening intently to every word.
Rick Boysen jokes “my backhand landed short’’ when discussing his pro career. They have lived in the area for about 11 years. Maya was born in Atlanta but calls Indian Harbour Beach home. She’ll be in seventh grade this fall. “Once I moved here 11 years ago, I knew it was a place I needed to be,’’ Rick said. He already is noticing Maya’s game is growing. Both love to play the net. Both draw raves for their skills.
Joey Jones and Tom Knights, who played at Louisiana State University, are the coaches forming her tennis game. “I love getting out there and playing with her,’’ Rick said. “It’s a great sport; there’s the physical aspect of it, the mental aspect of it, the social aspect.
“We play tennis quite a bit. I really try to enforce what her other coaches tell her. I try to stay hands off.”
Maya started playing at 4 years old. “I just kind of fell in love with the sport,’’ she said. “I just hope to take it as far as I can.’’
As they talk tennis, gymnastics equipment occupies their living space – representing another of Maya’s loves. She would later do a headstand and a flip that would take your breath away. Maya’s barely 5-foot frame is packed with so much talent, so many dreams. The tennis courts aren’t much farther way than the gymnastics gear. The Boysens live only a couple blocks from the club. “It’s a great neighborhood, a great area,’’Rick said. “It’s not too big, not too small, there’s a great diversity of people here, I think.’’
Are we watching the next home-grown super athlete? Is something very magical brewing? Time will tell.
“I have trouble moving my feet sometimes,’’ Maya said. “I have to focus on that sometimes. A lot of my shots are pretty technical.’’
Together the Boysens keep trying to master their craft.
“I do have trouble watching sometimes,’’ the father admits. “Naturally I’m competitive and once you’ve gotten good at anything you are naturally competitive, as she has become. So I want to see her succeed, so when she has her good days I feel so proud. Probably when she has her bad days it’s tough on both of us.’’
The first tournament Maya ever played in she lost her first match, then went into the consolation bracket and rolled. It will be years before her story is finally written, but sharing the game is special, in good times and bad.
“I complain about my shoulders and my knees sometimes,’’ jokes Rick, now 54. “My wife says sometimes, why don’t you quit then? I say, well, I can’t because if I quit I won’t have any friends. It’s a great game and I’ve met so many great people.”
What about the future? Dad says there’s no pressure on his daughter to follow in his footsteps.
“We’re two separate people,’’ Rick said. “Like she’s a great piano player and I can’t play the piano at all. I think there’s a lot of misconceptions like if someone is a great basketball player their kid should be a great basketball player. Everyone has to start somewhere. It’s still her game, she’s very young.’’