Robert Wittig has played some sensational tennis matches in his lifetime. But ask the former tennis instructor about his most memorable moment on the courts and he'll tell an unusual tale -- one free of aces, smash volleys or shots down the line.
It all began one evening last November when Robert asked Kimberly "Kim" Diamond, his girlfriend of five years, to play tennis with him after work. Both residents of Manhattan, the couple often met on the courts at New York University for tennis dates. Before this particular match, however, Robert had a bad case of butterflies.
"It was one of the most nerve-racking moments of my life," said Robert, a finance manager for Pfizer.
Why? Robert was ready to propose. And Kim, with her racket slung over her shoulder, was ready to play tennis.
"I had to carefully plan it all out," Robert said. "I wanted to ask her at the courts, but I didn't want to actually play."
To get Kim's mind off their match, Robert enlisted the help of a receptionist at the tennis club, who pretended that all the courts were booked for the night. Disappointed, Kim took a seat on a wooden bench. Taking a seat next to her, Robert came through with one of the best plays of his life.
Fumbling with a tennis ball in his hands, he reminded Kim of all the time they had spent together on the courts. Then, he dropped the ball at her feet. When she picked it up, Kim felt something jiggling inside. Through a hole in the ball, she found a diamond ring. "I was in such a state of shock," Kim said. "But I just knew that he was the person that I wanted to be with, and I said 'yes' right away."
The couple left the courts in a limousine for a celebratory dinner at a local French restaurant, Les Deux Amis, which means the two friends. "I wanted to surprise her, but I also wanted to do something that gave meaning to our history," said Robert.
That history goes back to 1997, when Robert and Kim worked at Oxford Health Care in New York City. "The moment I saw her, I knew there was something special about her," Robert said. "But we were at work and all I could do was make lame attempts to talk to her."
After they formally met at a company holiday party, Robert got up the nerve to ask Kim out. Weeks later, they were dating. "We just had so much fun together and had so much in common," said Kim, who now works in the health-care division of Edlemen Public Relations Worldwide.
Something they share, besides tennis, is similar family values. Coincidentally, Kim is a triplet, and Robert is a twin. According to Kim, that twist of fate makes for a lot of laughs among friends and family. "It's a running joke that we'll have sextuplets!" she said.
On Sept. 7, the couple were married at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart church in Baltimore in front of about 150 friends and family. Kim's gown, designed by Vera Wang, was made of ivory satin and decorated with delicate embroidery. Both the bride and groom included their siblings in the wedding party.
After a two-week honeymoon in Italy, Robert, 29, and Kim, 28, returned to New York City, where they're looking forward to cooler fall weather -- the kind that's perfect for a newlywed stroll in Central Park. Or, in their case, an evening on the tennis courts.