Organizer of the Month: February 2017
February 20, 2017
Each month, USTA Eastern selects one passionate advocate who has impacted lives through tennis on a local level. It all begins with a love of the game! These individuals have inspired us with their community tennis involvement.
Tennis Organizer of the Month: February 2017
Dennis Maher, of Walden, N.Y., was chosen as USTA Eastern’s Tennis Organizer of the Month for February for consistently providing play opportunities to high school and youth players in the Newburgh, N.Y. community. Maher is currently the head varsity boys’ tennis coach at Newburgh Free Academy and the Director of Goldback Tennis Club.
Heading into his sixth year as coach of the varsity boys’ team, Maher teaches his players the importance of working hard and focusing on improving each day, rather than winning a match or beating a particular player. ADVERTISEMENT
“I constantly talk to every kid in my program,” Maher said. “The conversation is always about continuing to make progress and working to achieve each player’s goals.”
Maher believes in making tennis more accessible to anyone who has an interest in playing. In doing so, he has created a scholarship program for seven students to participate in Sportsplex New Windsor’s winter program.
“I didn’t come from a family that knew anything about tennis and I didn’t have the resources to just go to a club to take lessons,” Maher said. “Fortunately, I had a really great high school coach who pushed me. I knew that if I ever had the chance to coach tennis, I wanted to be able to give kids like me the opportunity to play.”
Maher is opening the door for several local youth to try tennis through his work as Director of the Goldback Tennis Club. Since the club’s inception four years ago, Maher, along with several parent volunteers, host community events to raise money for the club, including the youth and high school programs.
“The success of Goldback Tennis Club wouldn’t be possible without the tremendous group of volunteers that make up our committee,” Maher said. “Deena Reede, Joyce McNair, Kim Watkins and Izana Phillips have been extremely important to the development of our club.”
As part of the fundraising, Maher hosts two “Welcome Back to Tennis” dinners at a local restaurant each March for youth and high school program participants and their parents. Raffle tickets are sold on-site and a percentage of the proceeds from the two nights help fund the respective programs.
The play pathway Maher provides for youth consists of a school program in the fall and winter, a Saturday league in the winter into the spring and a Saturday clinic from the spring until the start of summer. Maher worked to get blended lines installed at one of the elementary schools and has plans to get them installed on additional courts going forward. Nine elementary schools within the district are hosting tennis this year, increasing from the three schools that ran programming the previous year, demonstrating continued growth in youth opportunities.
“Our Saturday clinic at the park gives the varsity players an opportunity to give back, while building leadership skills,” Maher said. “At the same time, the youth players are inspired by the older kids. It’s great to see the energy tennis creates for all of the players.”