Mikey and Lindsey Raymond
After three years of playing tennis at SIUE and being so far from her home of Naples, Fla., Lindsey Raymond’s new roommate will help her feel like she never left.
Mikey Raymond, her younger brother, became a member of the SIUE men’s tennis team, bringing a little piece of home with him to Edwardsville.
Although he did spend time looking at other schools, both siblings agreed when they said, “We knew that going to school together again was the goal the whole time.”
Lindsey recalls wanting to explore the option of a university in the Midwest in order to “experience all the seasons.” On her recruiting visit during the winter, she had to be reminded to wear a coat when stepping outside.
“College is definitely the time to get away from home and experience something new,” she said.
Despite the distance, she felt that the team and coaching staff at SIUE led her to choose it as her ultimate college home.
Over the years, Mikey began to constantly hear about SIUE from his sister. He was able to see the teams play at a tournament in Fort Myers, Fla. As soon as Lindsey set foot on campus, Mikey began to consider it a place that he could feel at home like his sister did.
He knew tennis would be in his future because his two older sisters had already played collegiate tennis.
“I’ve looked up to my sisters my whole life. I knew I wanted to play college tennis after I saw them do it,” Mikey said.
“I knew I was going to look around, which I did, but when I visited SIUE I knew this was the perfect fit,” Mikey added.
“We couldn’t be happier to have both of the Raymond children here at SIUE,” SIUE men’s tennis Head Coach Jason Coomer said. “They were obviously raised with a high level of integrity and character. If we can continue to recruit players who possess the desire and character that these two do, our program will be in good shape for many years to come. My only regret is that we didn’t get all three of the Raymond kids.”
The Raymonds now call Edwardsville their home away from home.
Lindsey and Mikey are excited to be with each other again this year and both cite their close bond as the reason.
“In high school, we did everything together. We’d work out together. We’d go to tennis practice together. We’re siblings and at times we argue, but we move past that and motivate each other,” Lindsey said.
Although Lindsey and Mikey are the first of their family to play tennis at SIUE, their family has roots in the sport of tennis. Their father, Mike Raymond, instilled his love of tennis into his three children. His first daughter, Leslie, played tennis at the University of Tampa while Lindsey and lastly, Mikey completed the circle.
“I’ve never met anyone who loves tennis as much as my dad,” Lindsey said.
Their father, a pilot, picked up tennis from watching so much of it on television. Eventually, he became good enough to play at Indiana State. He became a certified teaching pro in Naples, and eventually taught his wife, Julie, to play. Julie also became a teaching pro in Naples.
While Lindsey was away from home last March, Mikey had to make the difficult call to tell her that their father had suffered a massive heart attack.
“No one can ever be prepared for the call that Lindsey got that day,” Coomer said. Despite being in the middle of the season, Lindsey went home immediately to be with her family.
“Lindsey handled the situation better than you could imagine,” SIUE women’s tennis Head Coach Amanda Pratzel said. “She came back to school, kept up with her grades, and participated in practice like she would have any other day.”
Mikey also was in season back home at the time of his father’s heart attack. One of his father’s dreams was that one of his children would become a state champion tennis player. Mikey, the last Raymond child in high school, decided to leave with his team while his father was in the hospital to accomplish this goal, winning the state tournament in dominant fashion.
“I hardly lost any games that day,” Mikey said. “God was with me and helped me to win it for my dad.”
While Mike Raymond’s condition became stable, he had to teach himself how to stand and walk again. Lindsey and Mikey laugh as they tell the story of him in the hospital, asking for his racket, telling Mikey to lace up his shoes and get ready to leave the hospital to play.
Both recounted how tennis was able to help him regain his strength again.
“My mom started to bump a tennis ball with him while he was standing. He stood for 12 minutes then, when his record before that was something like three minutes. I think he just was playing tennis and not thinking about standing again,” said Lindsey. “Little did we know, all we had to do was put a tennis racket in his hand.”
“It’s incredible how he taught all three of us to love the game,” Mikey said.
Growing up, the Raymonds give credit to their parents for their current tennis success. Both siblings agreed, “Our dad is the person who got us started in tennis, and he is the person who gives us inspiration to continue playing.”
Playing tennis and growing up was really a family ordeal for the Raymonds.
“It wasn’t just sending the kids out to camp,” Lindsey said. “We were able to play together.”
After another surgery in Cleveland this summer, Mike Raymond’s condition continues to improve as Lindsey and Mikey gear up for their last and first college tennis seasons, respectively.
Despite being so far away from their tight-knit family after their difficult year, Mikey said, “Being here at SIUE feels like home, so it won’t be as hard to be so far away.”