Countdown: Anchors Aweigh for Andrew Ton
by Sonny Dearth, 28 March 2017
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The United States military improved Andrew Ton's life a generation before he was born. So it's small wonder that Ton, a 5-Star left-hander from Milpitas, Calif., has committed to attend the U.S. Naval Academy and play tennis for the Midshipmen.
Back in 1975, the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon - renamed Ho Chi Minh City - was captured by the Communist North Vietnamese army and the Viet Cong, closing a deadly, costly conflict that divided American opinion for a couple of decades. U.S. Marines helped evacuate many South Vietnamese from the war-torn area as the conflict was ending. One of them was a teenager named Nghia Ton.
"My dad came to this country in 1975 when he was 17 or 18. My dad actually got picked up by the second-to-last Chinook off the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon. The Marines on the 7th Fleet Carrier helped him and other refugees board a merchant ship to Guam," Andrew Ton, 17, said.
Meanwhile, Ton's future mother, Melissa, had a father who worked for CBS. Her family earlier had come to the U.S., where she attended the University of Houston. She now works for Lockheed Martin.
Nghia (often known as N.T.) went to the University of Illinois, and the couple met while playing tennis.
Andrew said he started playing tennis when he was just 2 and played his first tournament at 6.
"Both my older sisters played. Christina went to Manhattan College, and Stefanie went to the Naval Academy as well. They're definitely huge inspirations to me," he said.
At that time, the coaches for Manhattan and Navy were friendly, and they arranged a couple of matches between the Jaspers and the Middies. Andrew and the rest of his family sometimes flew east to see matches involving the sisters, both of whom earned all-conference honors.
"My sisters teach me how to be a better person," Andrew said. "Big props to them."
Stefanie Ton was an All-Patriot League player who competed on line 1 for Navy, so the last name is well-known around tennis circles in Annapolis, Md. She's now a first lieutenant in the Marines.