Linda Fetter is on the verge of tears as she acknowledges how pickleball played a crucial part in turning her life around. Fetter has been playing the game for nearly eight years, and her four-year-old grandson, Liam, is also crazy about the game.
For Fetter, pickleball provided a sanctuary after losing her grandson and Liam’s brother, Jett, just shy of six months old, four months ago.
The experience has been profoundly challenging for Fetter, as well as for Liam and his mother, Victoria, but she tells Andrew Gillamn, PPA reporter, “Honestly, pickleball is what saved me. It gave me something to do other than think about everything.”
Linda has taken Liam “under her wing” and recently introduced him to his first-ever PPA event, The Vulcan Kansas City Open.
Having spent time together watching matches on TV, Liam instantly recognized several top players and positioned himself right behind Ben Johns‘ bench.
The first pro player they met was Irina Tereschenko, who took the time to give a high-five, engage in conversation, and share a smile – she left Liam captivated.
After finding out that Liam wanted a PPA shirt, a vendor generously presented him with one and even threw in a ball as well.
They watched the coverage when they got home that evening and decided to go back the following day. This time, Liam was armed with a pen and the ball, eager for some autographs.
Recalling the experience, Fetter mentioned, “I was telling my husband Bill that he needed to go with me, and we had no intention of bringing Liam, but Liam said he wanted to go back.”
Liam ended up getting an autograph from none other but Anna Leigh Waters, as Linda recounts: “He got an autograph from Leigh Waters, and then Ben [Johns] gave him an autograph, and of course, Liam started rooting for him.
“When the match was over, and Ben was getting interviewed, Liam went running after him. Liam is standing there with Anna Leigh Waters, and she signed his ball, reached out, even gave him a hug. He loved her.”
“He Embraced It All”
“He embraced it all,” Fetter said. “It was incredible. That night, he went home, and he was in the living room, and he was hitting the ball. His mom said that’s all he does now.”
Liam even went back a third time to Championship Sunday!
“He was so excited to go again, and the first thing that happened when we walked in was he saw Catherine Parenteau and Tyson McGuffin,” Fetter said. “We were there, and they both signed his ball, and he gave them high-fives.”
Transforming Linda’s Life
What a few days for this young fan whose grandmother commended her daughter, Victoria, for raising an exceptional, loving, and spirited young boy: “Victoria has done an amazing job raising an exceptional little boy. He’s loving, kind, and very energetic.”
Pickleball has been instrumental in transforming Linda’s life. It has not only kindled a passion in Liam but has also paved the way for yet another family member to embrace the sport.
“Victoria has been going through a hard time. She was a tennis player, and we always told her to start playing pickleball and trying to get her to play and that it would help her get through it.
“We’re going to start playing this week, and Victoria was watching, and she said, ‘I get it. People are so nice.’
“These people are the kindest people with their hearts in it. I think Victoria had an epiphany. She wants to play now.”
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