The Story of My Parents: Tennis, VHS Tapes, and Anniversaries

These are my parents, Danny and Lisa. They met on the Nashboro Village tennis courts by a vending machine 30 years ago. I’ve heard my dad say many times that he remembers so vividly standing on the balcony of the coolest tennis complex in all of Nashville, looking down to see the most beautiful and athletic woman playing some mean tennis and proceeding to ask his friend if he knew who she was.


My dad was newer to the tennis community, and he found tennis because his house got broken into and the responding police officer, veteran police officer Frank Soto, asked him if he’d like to play sometime. It’s crazy how something that seems so bad can lead to something so incredibly good. They’ve been married for 28 years, and this is where it all began.

When they heard that the tennis complex was going to be torn down and be replaced by a housing development, they were devastated. I knew immediately that we had to go and take pictures.

This is where my dad was sitting the first time that he saw my mom on the tennis courts.

This is where my dad was sitting the first time that he saw my mom on the tennis courts.

We did this session on July 9th, 2019. When spending time at my grandmother's house, we found some old tapes of my mom playing tennis in 1989. Strangely enough the footage is from July 9th, 1989, when my parents were dating. We did not plan on doing this 30 years EXACTLY to the date of their portrait session before the courts close. We were all in shock and awe that this was discovered!

When my dad tells the story of how he and my mom met, he makes the tennis complex sound like this luxurious facility, almost like a resort. Big stadium lights, a multi-story building with indoor courts, food and drinks galore. When we arrived last week to take pictures, the place definitely didn’t look like the way that I remember it being described in those childhood stories. The fences were rust stained, the tables old and emaciated. The place was almost a ghost town at 6:00 pm on a Tuesday, and that seemed like prime tennis time to me. I was surprised when I walked onto the courts; this place wasn’t at all like I had imagined.

But when my parents walked onto the court, I immediately understood. The way that they looked at each other, full of memories from years ago, and that was all it took. It made so much sense to me in that moment. They made this place beautiful, and so did all of the other people that showed up as the evening went on to play tennis and hash out old rivalries over sweat and clay dust and friendly trash talk.

My parents classic high five after winning a point.

My parents classic high five after winning a point.

The smiles my parents made in their eyes at each other as I took their pictures made the old courts gleam with a new kind of beauty, unlike they had appeared to lack just moments before. I’m so thankful for situations like these; for two parents to admire and look to for wisdom as I walk through my own marriage, and for a camera to capture not just people and places, but the moments that make those people and places so incredibly unique and wonderful.


Photos by Allie Chambers Photography

Story Development & Editing by Jacob Hopkins