Those of us who have spent most of our lives in racket sports have a special place in our heart for the junior game. Several of us were involved in local youth tennis before going off to play tennis at local colleges, including the once powerful University of Maryland. I suppose it is because we appreciate the positive impact tennis had on our own lives.

It’s especially gratifying when we see a young teenager master a game like tennis, and it is even more gratifying when we see them learn lessons from their sport, and apply those skills to the real Wimbledon: life.

I had the delightful experience of interviewing a young tennis star, Abigail Plylar. I knew she was something special when she cut the conversation about herself and tennis. She wanted to talk about that other thing — life.

When she was just 13, Abigail started the Love For Lungs Tennis Tournament in honor of her grandfather, Ron Plylar, who passed in 2015 from pulmonary fibrosis. He had been president of Millsboro-headquartered Internet America, which provided animal vaccines and pharmaceuticals. Afterwards, he founded Biomune Inc., which sells animal vaccines in more than 30 countries.

The Plylars are, and have been, heavily involved in our poultry industry. The food we eat today is safer because of some of the products Ron developed.

Pulmonary fibrosis took her grandfather’s breath away. Most racket-sports players know what it is like to get that burning sensation when we get terribly winded on court. What do we do? We walk into a shady corner to “suck air” and recover. Think for just a moment what it would be like if you couldn’t recover, and it just continued to get worse! I hope I got your attention to help this young lady.

Abigail witnessed her grandfather’s battle and decided, in his honor, to create a tennis tournament to raise money for research in the Lung Healing Program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Their priorities include lung regeneration, lung repair, artificial respiration and adult stem-cell therapy.

This will be her fifth and final year, because off to college goes this inspirational young lady. She hopes to top last year’s $60,000 and, hopefully, reach her goal of an impressive $250,000 for lung research over the last five years.

The LoveForLungs Tournament is a doubles tournament for women, men and mixed, where the net entry fee goes toward lung research, and this year pickleball will be included. There will be a Gala “After Party,” and speakers will talk about the medical advances in lung research.

Abigail’s event will be hosted at our own nationally-ranked tennis gem, Sea Colony, on Saturday and Sunday, April 24 and 25. You can find detailed information at the excellent website, LoveForLungs.com, and enter the tournament, or donate, directly from there.

Hopefully, when you next get winded on court, you will think of Abigail and help fill the sail of her worthy cause.

Note: I am not sure how the coronavirus will impact this event, but their website will be updated.

Vaughn “The Baron” Baker is a Senior Olympics gold-medalist in pickleball, and is public relations director for the First State Pickleball Club (FSPC) and captain of the Ocean View Crew pickleball community. He spent his career working with top tennis professionals while working for Wilson Sporting Goods and introducing the Prince Tennis Racket and Wimbledon Tennis Lines. For more information, visit PickleballCoast.com.

Vaughn “The Baron” Baker is a Senior Olympics gold-medalist in pickleball, and is public relations director for the First State Pickleball Club (FSPC) and captain of the Ocean View Crew pickleball community. He spent his career working with top tennis professionals while working for Wilson Sporting Goods and introducing the Prince Tennis Racket and Wimbledon Tennis Lines. For more information, visit PickleballCoast.com.