ORGANIZER OF THE MONTH: September 2017
September 22, 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: September 2017
For the past 10 years, Laura Dwojewski, Tournament Director for Mendham Health and Racquet Club (indoor events) and The Pingry School (outdoor events), has been a mother on a mission. Having taken her daughter, Dara, through the entire USTA junior tournament pathway, she recognized areas in which improvements were needed. Laura has been chosen as USTA Eastern’s Tennis Organizer of the Month for September for her dedication to promoting sportsmanship at the junior tournaments she manages, and the measurable impact they have made in junior players lives. ADVERTISEMENT
Laura was inspired after taking Dara to a tournament in the Middle States section, where she was surprised and frankly touched to learn that all the tournament players went out to dinner after play concluded. ““These players were friends first and opponents second,” Laura explained.
Laura set out to make similar improvements and differences within the Eastern section. As tournament director, Laura first created a substantial award to recognize acts of sportsmanship that were observed. This sportsmanship trophy, which is as big, or sometimes bigger than the tournament winner’s trophy, is presented with a speech highlighting the reason for the player’s recognition and is a greatly coveted by all her returning players.
Over the last 10 years, these positive interventions have made a significant impact on Laura’s tournaments. The last two tournaments she held resulted in draws of 125 and 88 players, respectively. Also, before her sportsmanship recognition programs were integrated into tournaments, there were 3-4 code violations resulting from each tournament. Laura hasn’t issued a single code violation the entire summer.
One of the things that make this effort so successful is the dedicated team Laura consistently works with at the tournaments. George Roser, Mary Phillips, Heino Nowak and Dara Dwojewski help monitor the courts and there is always one official assigned to four courts. “There is zero tolerance for cursing, rackets abuse and other common unsportsman-like behavior. But it’s also recognizing the little things, like the player who loaned his opponent his spare racket after he broke the strings on all of his, or when two players show up to a tournament not knowing each other, and leave as friends and exchange phone numbers. When this happens, I really feel like we’ve done our job.”