© Andrew Ong
By Blair Thompson, USTA.com
Tucson, Ariz. - While D’Wayne Begay of Albuquerque may have lost his first match at the 2009 USTA League 4.5 Senior National Championships, he is a winner to many wheelchair players in his hometown and Native American children around the United States.
Begay, who is the Tennis Director at Four Hills Country Club, has run a weekly wheelchair program for local players for almost five years. His dedication and generosity was recognized this year by the Chamber of Commerce as Begay received one of the inaugural Spirit of Albuquerque Awards.
“Each of the five individuals recognized with the 2009 Spirit of Albuquerque Award have quietly gone about their work without any fanfare,” said Michael Zientek, Chairman of the Chamber’s Board of Directors. “They have expected nothing in return for all of their efforts and time that they have put in to improving the community.
Begay, who is a full-blooded Navajo Indian, has also dedicated his time to bringing the joy of tennis to Native American children throughout the state of New Mexico and around the U.S. In 2006, he received a national government grant to travel around the country and hold tennis play days at schools and reservations.
For the last three years Begay has continued to share tennis with Native American youth and speaks proudly of “Tennis Days” that he has held in states like Oklahoma, Washington and California.
With the formation of his non-profit organization Red Bear Tennis Inc., Begay looks forward to helping even more children discover the many benefits of tennis for the first time. And in his first visit to Tucson, helping his team win their first national championship.