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Super Senior Grand Prix (Designated) at Mid-Cape

February 24, 2009 01:14 PM

By: Tori Townsend

As part of USTA Florida’s commitment to excellence, the association is evaluating many of its tournaments in 2009. Every month, one adult/senior tournament will be selected as a "Tournament Spotlight" due to its outstanding efforts, extra amenities and successful event for adult/senior players in the state.

Congratulations to inaugural adult/senior recipient, Jack Dunmead, Tournament Director of the West Coast Super Senior Grand Prix (Designated) at Mid-Cape Racquet & Health Club in Cape Coral, Fla. The tournament offered an exceptionally warm reception for 169 players competing in the Super Senior Grand Prix (SSGP) circuit.

Jack has been involved with the SSGP circuit for the past two years which has become a favorite stop for players nationwide. The third event of the 2009 West Coast SSGP, Jack made sure players were greeted with a welcoming atmosphere and hospitable staff when they walked through the door.

Current Tennis Director of Mid-Cape Racquet & Health Club, Jack has been in the business and running tournaments for over 40 years. A physical education teacher, tennis director, player and teaching professional, he understands the importance of a well run tournament. In 2004, Jack retired and moved from Massachusetts to Cape Coral, originally with a plan to "not work". With a helpful nudge from his wife Betty, who immediately began stringing racquets and working in the pro shop at Mid-Cape when they moved, Jack became director of racquet sports less than a year later.

"I can remember all the tournaments I used to go to in New England and national events and some you looked forward to and wanted to go back to, while some you felt like saying to the tournament director, ‘Is this tournament worth it to you because you don’t put any effort into it,’" Jack said. "With my background in playing tournaments, I kind of have a good feel for what is important to the players."

While at Mid-Cape, Jack spoke with USTA Florida about his tournament and what makes a successful event.

Q. What do you like most about hosting the West Coast SSGP (Designated) at Mid-Cape?
A. Being a senior tennis player myself, I like seeing so many seniors still participating in tennis, renewing old acquaintances and meeting new senior players from all over the world. That is the nicest part. These guys are still doing it and only a handful of them are making a few dollars at the end of the week. They are spending a lot more than they are making, but they do it for the competition and love of tennis.


Q. What makes a good tournament?
A. It all starts with the owners of Mid-Cape, Suzanne and Bob Lynch, and the staff here. It is important to surround yourself with good people who support the event, are involved in tennis and like tennis so they are happy to be part of the picture. The volunteers that we’ve had for the past two years are just wonderful. They donate their time and go out of their way to make the players happy. They talk to the players, nurture the players, remember the players’ names and just make it very homey. I’d say the number one thing is having a nice hospitable staff so when the players come in, they get a warm fuzzy feeling.


Q. What kind of services did you offer the players?
A. We always have a player’s party on Wednesday evening. We invite our volunteers as well husbands and wives to join in the fun. Geo’s Italian restaurant sponsors the party and over 125 people enjoyed the party. The players receive Gatorade and fruit, as well as full use of the club’s facilities.


Q. What are some things that have changed since you’ve been a tournament director?
A. From the 85s to 90s, players always entered a tournament by making a phone call to us. None of them entered online. I was a non-computer type of guy and did not have a lot of computer experience, but learning the TDM program has been very very helpful. I learned a lesson last year. I left the draw sheets out at the desk for players that wanted to get their start time by calling us, rather than using TennisLink. Two players thought they were scheduled a day later then they were because one of our front desk employees read the draw sheet wrong. So this year, we made sure we left a nice alphabetical print out [from TennisLink]. It worked out that they didn’t have to default, but we were lucky.


Q. What is one of the most important things you want players to remember after they leave your event?
A. Once again, it is the atmosphere that we have here. When they walk in the door, they players know they are welcome and we are happy to have them here. They go away with that feeling and want to come back next year.


Q. What type of player does your tournament draw?
We had a terrific field this year. Larry Turville won the 60s over Mike Beautyman. Larry used to No. 1 in the world in the 55s and now it is his first year in the 60s. In the 65s, we had a German fellow, Peter Adrigan, who beat Fred Drilling in the finals and he is a tremendous player. A lot of people came just to watch him because he has been No. 1 in the world and it is his first year in the 65s. We also get guys who know they might lose in the first round and go into the consolation, but they just enjoy competing. This year, we also had four guys in the 90s singles. I scheduled their final on our show court to give these guys a little prominence, but the match wasn’t as close as I thought it would be because one guy could run pretty well and the other one couldn’t. It was great to see those guys out there playing - they are so funny. They all play in no man’s land. You tell people all their life to never play in no man’s land, but if you get to be that age and can’t run very good, it is the best place to stand!

Q. What opportunities has tennis offered you, both as a tournament director and player?
A. Tennis has been a real big part of my life. I took up tennis in college. I was planning to play baseball in the spring, but didn’t have a fall sport. My freshman roommate was a tennis player who got me started. I met the tennis coach who was a terrific person and decided to play tennis instead of baseball. A week after I graduated from college, the coach got me an interview at a small swim and tennis club in Connecticut to be the pro there. That was in 1963 and I’ve never stopped doing tennis since. It has been great traveling the country to play tennis and it is easy to give back because you’ve taken so much from it.


Q. What is the most important thing that being a tournament director has taught you?
A. To emphasize respect and hospitality to the players. That is the number one thing. When you are a player yourself, you realize the sacrifice the players are making on their wallets and on their bodies. It takes a toll. You see these players come back from these operations and injuries and are still competing. So that it the main thing it’s taught me – to really try to put on a nice show for the players. Last year, we had a doctor that played a long match, went out to his car and had a stroke and went to the hospital. He called us a few days later from the hospital and said ‘I’ll be back next year!" And sure enough, he [Ed Gibson] came back and played this year.


Q. As you know, USTA Florida is raising tournament standards and practicing more oversight. How do you feel about that?
It is a great idea. We are very happy to get the recognition and it is good that the USTA is looking at tournaments and trying to assure that they are run correctly and provide a good atmosphere for the players. It is great that the USTA is publicizing the good tournaments and hopefully, that will make other tournaments better. I’ve always been of the mindset to have fewer tournaments, but make sure they are all good tournaments instead of having a lot of tournaments with bad ones mixed in.






***Pictures: Dunmead (in black) with tournament players from this year's event.

















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