Math teacher Dave Daniels (second from left) often has no problem schooling opponents in USTA League play, even after two knee replacements.
© Jennifer Pottheiser
By Nicholas J. Walz, USTA.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Leave it to a math teacher to defy logic.
Dave Daniels, 72, cuts an imposing figure that belies his age, the tallest and broadest member of his USTA New England team based out of Springfield, Mass. He’s the oldest on a talented squad, attacking the ball with aplomb during the USTA League Super Senior National Championships – all the more amazing considering that within the last five years, he’s had two full-blown knee replacement surgeries to try to remain in the game.
"I picked a surgeon, specifically telling him: ‘I love tennis,’" said Daniels, who had his right knee operation in 2008 and the left in 2010. "I was determined. I didn’t want to hear that I couldn’t play anymore."
Daniels maintained optimism after a hopeful prognosis.
"[My doctor] told me that one big factor is you have to be in shape for the surgery to go well," said Daniels. "I bounced back fast, having the surgery in December and playing tennis in March."
Daniels has been actively playing since 1970 – 43 years – with no signs of stopping after operations that usually end the careers of world-class athletes, let alone 70-something academic types. If the recent retiree has it his way, his years of schooling opponents in tennis will be a count that eclipses his 49 years in the classroom.
"My high school only offered football, basketball and baseball, so I caught the bug when I was teaching out in Hawaii," said Daniels. "Ever since, it’s been a part of my life, one I can share with my family and supportive teammates."
Daniels plays doubles in 18-and-over and 40-and-over USTA League programs, in addition to Super Seniors. He also participates in father-son tournaments with his son, Matt, and mixed doubles with wife, Carolyn – at one time, the two were ranked No. 1 in the New England section. On Daniels’ resume is a 4.5 level national title for New England back in 1999 and several other appearances at the ultimate USTA League face-off.
Of course, this is the first Nationals with new knees supporting his frame. Yet it’s the same old Dave Daniels, solving problems and increasing his probability of success by staying as fit as possible.
"I’m doing well," said Daniels. "I used to run, jog, but now I have a bike and I love my bike. Good for me – no impact."
USTA League is the United States' largest recreational tennis league, helping more than 800,000 participants nationwide get on the court, have a good time and step up their game. Take part in the fun in 2013 for a team experience like no other!
The first step to joining USTA League is becoming a USTA Member. Not a member? Sign up today.