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Proud grandparents a familiar sight on Alabama sidelines

TOC 2017 grandparents Alabama 

By Ashley Marshall

ORLANDO, Fla. -- When the University of Alabama punched its ticket to the 2017 Tennis On Campus National Championships, the team knew it would have two familiar faces cheering it on from the sidelines.

Carol and Cy Henke have been traveling to support their grandson, Crimson Tide sophomore Mitchell Jostes, for the past two years in college – and on travel teams his entire high school life before that – so another road trip was always in the cards. 

The Henkes made the 650-mile, 10-hour drive down I-75 from Knoxville, Tenn., to the USTA National Campus at Lake Nona in Orlando, Fla., to cheer on the team, which has adopted them as its own.

"I've been supporting my grandson for many years," Carol said from her courtside fold-up lawn chair. "I was the first person to go out and start playing tennis with him when he was 9 years old because I played for quite a few years.

"I remember when we first went out to play, it was funny because he was hitting the ball left-handed [on the left side] and then he would switch hands [on the right side]. I said, 'Mitchell, why don't you try keeping the racquet in one hand?'"

The Henkes drove down with Mitchell's parents, Angie and Tom Jostes, and their retriever, Roxie, another unofficial mascot. For Mitchell, it's a treat to have the support of his family at the USTA National Campus.

"It's really great," said Mitchell, a business management major. "It's awesome. I don't live at home for school, so I only get to see them on weekends when I play tournaments. It's cool that they're almost 80 years old and still traveling. 

"They really like seeing that I've got nice teammates that take care of me, because they worry about me not being at home, and the other players have adopted them like they're their own family. It means a lot to me. They're always enjoyed watching me play sport and I know they're proud to see me out here."

The grandparents attended the 2016 National Championship in Cary, N.C., during Mitchell's freshman year, and this year they drove from Tennessee to other tournaments in Hilton Head Island, S.C.; Murfreesboro, Ala.; and Auburn, Ala. When they can't attend tournaments, they research restaurants in the area and make reservations for the team to ensure they eat properly after matches.

"It's wonderful," Cy Henke said. "I played a little bit with my wife because she has been a tennis nut through the years. It's reliving some of our youth through others."