Dippold Basks in Half Century of Tennis
Jess Campbell, General Manager of Dwight Davis Tennis Center in St. Louis, probably described Judy Dippold’s impact on tennis best:
“Judy Dippold is probably the matriarch of St. Louis tennis.”
Campbell hit the nail on the head. This – and a myriad of other reasons – is why Dippold is a 2020 Missouri Valley Gold Star Award Winner. Gold Star award winners are recognized for the contributions they are making to support and growing the game in the USTA Missouri Valley.
Dippold has diligently served the St. Louis tennis community since the 1970s, managing indoor clubs and the Dwight Davis Center. She has been involved as a long-time tournament director.
In addition to earning a Gold Star Award, she was inducted to the USTA Missouri Valley Hall of Fame in 2012, the USTA St. Louis Hall of Fame in 2019. Additionally, she nabbed USTA’s 2016 Blue Ribbon Award as one of the top three junior tournament directors in the country.
The accolades are aplenty. Dippold is blown away by earning awards for doing something she is fiercely passionate about.
“All of this is because I do what I love,” Dippold said. “How great is that?”
In 1992, she was hired as the first-ever St. Louis District Executive Director. But Dippold’s legacy will always be due to her contributions on the tournament side. She has run countless events over many decades, firmly believing in tennis’ ability to teach life lessons.
Dippold is a walking St. Louis tennis historian. Names, dates over the past half century – she knows it all. Tennis was not her first sport, however. Sports were part of her life from the beginning, though. Basketball, field hockey. You name it, she played it.
“I found tennis with my first husband,” Dippold said. “Eventually I had to go to work at a tennis club because of my habit. I was hooked.”
It has been part of her life ever since.
She started running tournaments almost by accident. Dippold said it was way back when they made ‘up draws by hand.’ Dippold was also the first-ever manager of an indoor club in St. Louis.
Her heart is with the junior tournaments. She’s known as a bit tough, but loveable. She believes in rules, with few exceptions. Tennis comes chalk-full of life lessons. It teaches you sportsmanship, how to win and lose gracefully, how to handle pressure and so many other things.
Dippold firmly believes juniors should be able to play without interruption from coaches and parents. She is a staunch enforcer of that philosophy.
“I’ve been known to remove parents from tournaments,” she said. “It comes as a shock to some. I always say kids should bring three things to the table when the match is over: scores, balls and your smile. That is it. The children are wonderful.”
Running tournaments has become a family affair. All of her five children have helped her run tournaments at different times. Grandchildren are now in the mix. Additionally, tournaments have been known to impede important family events, like weddings.
One son came to Dippold and asked if he could have his wedding in July. Prime tournament time.
“I run four tournaments in July,” Dippold said with a laugh.
Dippold’s sister has also been at her side for the big events. One of the biggest events came in 1994. It was the 1994 Olympic Festival and it was borderline chaos. But Dippold and the nearly 200 volunteers had it down to a science.
The night before tennis, the volunteers had to strike the volleyball courts off Dwight Davis courts and load it onto a truck so tennis could take place the next day. They got it done.
It is one of Dippold’s most fond memories.
“I feel like a roadie sometimes. There is just no way to describe it. We had a lot of great volunteers. We couldn’t have done it without them. 1994 was a big year for St. Louis tennis.”
Dippold considers herself lucky, mostly. And she considers herself as being at the right place at the right time for the majority of her career. We are not sure a legacy such as Dippold’s is that simple. But she can call it whatever she’d like.
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