This December, Vero Beach was home to a weekend of country songs, tennis courts and ceaseless generosity when 29-year old country singer and songwriter Jake Owen along with childhood friend and professional tennis player Mardy Fish returned to their hometown of Vero Beach to host the fifth annual Mardy’s Tennis & Jake’s Music Fest. The festival raised more than $60,000 for the St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and the Mardy Fish Foundation, which provides assistance to Vero Beach after-school programs.
Roughly 5,000 fans packed into Vero Beach’s Holman Stadium for the weekend’s concert. The eventful night included an opening act by Little Big Town along with a guest appearance from “Sing It Like Jake” contest winner Ty Bates. Owen teamed with longtime partner LongHorn Steakhouse in order to host the nationwide talent search that gave one lucky winner the opportunity to sing on stage with the country star. Contestants submitted a thirty-second video on Facebook where others were able to view and vote for their top picks. “They wanted to find a way to help contribute and drive awareness to our charities and to the Vero Beach community,” said Owen, referring to LongHorn’s partnership.
Owen handpicked the grand-prize winner from Hampton, Georgia, who he described as a great singer with a fantastic personality. “He seemed like the perfect fit,” said Owen. Bates was thrilled to receive the opportunity, which included riding from Nashville to Vero on the tour bus with Owen and the band. “Jake and the guys invited me out,” said Bates. “It’s just like hanging out with your buddies; it was a good time!”
As Mardy Fish explained, he and Jake have been friends since age 5 and have shared a long history together. As they both move forward in their highly visible careers, the path that brought these two together has not been forgotten. Fish spoke spiritedly about their childhood antics, explaining how Jake landed him detention from their art teacher in the sixth grade.
“The teacher thought I was fooling around because Jake was laughing at me and making fun of my art, and everyone started laughing ‘cause he was funny, so the teacher gave me detention because she didn’t think I could possibly draw that bad,” said Fish with a laugh.
Since then the two boys have grown up significantly and diligently striven to develop their successful careers. Fish explained that what he admires most about his friend Jake is that “he is ambitious and unbelievably hardworking. He works hard and loves what he does.”