Sunny Day News

Andy Mackler, 12, of Lake Mary, Fla., is a talented tennis player. The boy also loves dogs. When Andy saw an opportunity to combine those two passions for a special charity, he jumped on it like a weak second serve.

As a bar mitzvah project, Andy Mackler, 12, is staging a charity doubles tennis tournament to benefit Canine Companions for Independence.

For a bar mitzvah project, Mackler, 12, is directing a doubles tennis tournament to benefit Canine Companions for Independence.

As a bar mitzvah project in advance of his 13th birthday on Sept. 28, Andy is staging a Charity Doubles Tennis Tournament this August, with the proceeds benefiting Canine Companions for Independence.

From a fund-raising standpoint, Andy’s effort is in the first set. He’s working hard to win support from his tennis community in order to achieve his goal of assisting Canine Companions.

The entry donation is $20 a person for the Aug. 2 tournament at Sanlando Tennis Center in Altamonte Springs. After expenses, proceeds from the event will go to Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), which is a non-profit organization founded in 1975. Canine Companions enhances the lives of individuals with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support to ensure successful partnerships. CCI is the largest non-profit provider of these assistance dogs.

Andy loves tennis and dogs, especially his golden retriever, Honey.

The Lake Mary, Fla., middle-school student loves tennis and dogs, especially his golden retriever, Honey.

“Doing a charity tournament to benefit (CCI) combines all my passions. I love to play tennis. I adore dogs completely, and I’ll do whatever I can to help people when they need it,” said Andy, whose family pampers its own 6-year old golden retriever, Honey. “This combines three of my favorite things into one great fundraiser.”

The one-day tournament is open to players of any level, and the field will be limited to 80 players. In addition to the matches, there will be raffles from sponsors who are donating tennis-related items. There are still sponsorship spots open for businesses, groups or individuals wishing to help the tournament’s donation to Canine Companions. Email ccidoubles@hotmail.com.

“It would be a thrill to get 80 people (40 teams) in this tournament. That would be so incredible for me. It would be such a great experience, and there is not much more that I could ask other than that,” said Andy, who will work numerous community-service hours at Sanlando Tennis Center in tradeoff for the court time donated by the center.

Like a good doubles team, Andy has a strong partner for this project. His older brother Ryan, 15, built the website for the event and helped with the tournament’s flier. Go to ccidoubles.weebly.com to reach the tournament site built by Ryan, who is also an outstanding junior tennis player. You may sign up for the event on the site, make a donation or gain further details. Email questions to ccidoubles@hotmail.com.

Andy Mackler is a talented junior player who is putting his know-how into staging a charity tournament.

Andy Mackler is a talented junior player who is putting his know-how into staging a charity doubles event.

Andy’s parents, Robin and Jay Mackler, are proud and delighted by the charity effort.

“It’s nice to see your kids think about things other than their own little world and realize there are things out there they can do to help people,” Robin Mackler said. “It’s really cool to watch them grow up and do things like this. And it’s also nice to see them (the brothers) work together, too.”

Serving as “tournament director” puts Andy in an unusual position. He’s more at home on the court, where he is ranked in the top 25 in Florida for boys 12 and under. But he is embracing the challenge of running the charity event – and enjoying it!

“It’s already been a lot of fun for me,” said Andy, whose favorite pro player is nine-time French Open winner Rafael Nadal, a lefty, same as Andy. “I’ve always just really admired him.”

Admiration comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s in regard for a special athlete or role model. Other times it’s found in a dog’s eyes gazing upon a master who, in turn, relies heavily on his canine companion.

Andy Mackler’s fund-raising Charity Doubles Tournament is admirable. It already looks like a cross-court winner on match point.

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