Boys are molded into men through that special relationship.
Elijah Nykamp had a great role model in his father, Ross Nykamp, but when he died suddenly in 2011, Elijah lost that role model at a pivotal age.
Though he is no longer physically present on a daily basis with Elijah, the life lessons learned are a constant reminder to what his father's life was all about.
"One word that describes my dad is passion," Elijah told The Holland Sentinel. "He had a passion for everything. That was the biggest thing I admired about him. He had the biggest passion for family. I will always look at that and want to be like him in that way. He was passionate about his family, his job, being healthy."
Holland Christian honored Elijah's father last year with the Ross Nykamp Memorial Tournament. The second year of the tournament started the season for the Maroons.
"It has always been really awesome to have that tournament the first of the year in memory of my dad," he said. "It always is really emotional going into it."
Holland Christian coach John Knoester said he has been amazed by Elijah.
"Elijah has a really strong character and faith that has carried him through some tough times," Knoester said. "I see him now as a kid who is a leader amongst his peers. He maintains the same kind of characteristics and personality that his dad had. I am very much impressed with how much he has dealt with. I hope the friendships he has made in tennis have been there to support him throughout the years."
The tennis friendships supported the Nykamp family through the tough times.
"After attending the funeral and seeing every member of the family witness to the amount of love there for their father, it was actually uplifting," Knoester said.
But it wasn't that way for Elijah, at least not right away.
"There was a lot of shock right away. For the first couple months, it was complete shock that he was gone," he said. "I always think about him, every second of the day. He is always in the back of my mind."
Knoester thinks of him often, too.
"I don't know how tough it is for a kid in high school to lose his dad," Knoester said. "I can only imagine how hard that might be."
Nykamp has moved from doubles to singles this year and still feels the support of his father, albeit in a different way.
"That happened a few times," he said. "I turned around and expected to see him there. That is always a little said. Once I turned around and thought I saw him. That was cool. He is still here watching me play."