May 8, 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: May 2017


Don Dudley, of Glenville, N.Y., was chosen as USTA Eastern’s Tennis Organizer of the Month for May because of his commitment to making tennis accessible to youth and adults. Dudley, who has been a teaching professional for 36 years and owner of Dudley Tennis Academy for nine, is the men’s and women’s assistant tennis coach at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y.


Dudley has worked as a coach at Union College for 11 years, including one as the interim head coach. When coaching, Dudley focuses on three main components with his players: sportsmanship, fun and technique. ADVERTISEMENT  He also helps players improve the mental side of their games.


“It is tough to compete at the collegiate level,” Dudley said. “Nerves can play a large role. I try to get my players to calm down and stay focused so they are able to transfer what we do in practice to matches.”


In addition to his work as a college coach, Dudley is the founder of the Donny Dudley Tennis Foundation. Dudley started the foundation in 2011 in honor of his son, Donny, who passed away in August of the same year in a tragic car accident.  Donny, an excellent tennis player and student at Niskayuna High School, was looking forward to competing his senior year. The foundation now raises money to give scholarships to student-athletes at Niskayuna High School each June.  


Since 2012, the Donny Dudley Tennis Foundation has hosted a memorial tennis tournament to help fundraise and get more people playing tennis. Dudley relies on the support of several sponsors to host the memorial tournament each year. Sponsors include families, businesses and organizations that offer monetary support as well as items to be raffled such as gym memberships and jewelry.


“Everybody understands the objective we have,” Dudley said. “It’s a tournament to honor and pay tribute to my son. At the same time, I describe it as a party for the tennis community to come out and have fun playing together.”


This year the tournament will be held May 26-29 at Union College. Dudley hopes to host the tournament at the foundation’s new outdoor court in Ballston Lake, N.Y. next year.


“We were just approved by the town and can now start the initial construction phases,” Dudley said. “There will be an oversized court with a viewing area and parking. After the outdoor court is completed, our ultimate goal is to build two indoor courts with locker rooms and a lobby.”


Once the construction is completed, Dudley plans to host Dudley Tennis Academy at the Ballston Lake site. Through his academy, he teaches new and existing players of all levels and ages.


Dudley is always looking to share his passion for the game with others. In doing so, he is also the captain/coach of a USTA Junior Team Tennis team. He formed an 18 and Under Intermediate B team comprised of players he teaches, including his two daughters. The team was named “Donny’s Thunder” in honor of his son. Dudley consistently connects his players with local opportunities to play, providing a fun learning experience to succeed.


“Tennis is a great sport for kids to try because I believe there are so many things we do on a tennis court that are life skills,” Dudley said. “Honesty, integrity, working hard and not giving up are all principles that transfer over to life.”



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