A Conversation with Former USTA President, Dave Haggerty
Dave Haggerty is a member of the Middle States Hall of Fame, a high-level player and, most recently, wrapped up a two-year stint as President of the United States Tennis Association (USTA).
Haggerty, who began playing tennis as a toddler in New Jersey, spoke about his career, his time as President of the USTA and the exciting things happening in the tennis world.
On a long career in tennis, and how it’s evolved over the years.
“When I began playing at age 6, I didn’t have any thoughts of how tennis would impact my life, but by the time I was in high school I dreamed of playing professionally. Tennis continued to become a more important part of my life – playing national junior tournaments, getting a tennis scholarship to college and competing added to my tennis DNA.
In college I majored in business administration and minored in marketing and it seemed that papers and projects that I did in college all had a tennis or sports business theme. I knew I wanted to make my career tennis, but I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant.
Perhaps luck and circumstances took over but I have been fortunate to have had many global opportunities with tennis and am now enjoying my International Tennis Federation (ITF) and USTA board roles that keep me engaged in the sport I love.”
On the exciting direction tennis is moving.
“About one third of the US population is older than 50, which means there are going to be lots of grandparents (and parents) that can connect with players who are younger than 10 to start them in tennis. With shorter courts, kids and grandparents can play on the same size court allowing for success for the younger players as they start tennis and make it a family activity.”
You’re surrounded by tennis all the time. How often do you get to play these days?
“More this year than in the last two, luckily. My goal is to play 2-3 times per week, in season, and make up for the time I was not able to play the last two years.”
What were some of your best memories from the last two years, during your time as USTA President?
“How much time do we have for me to answer? There are so many memories we could talk for hours. The board accomplished some significant milestones over the last two years- making the decision to put a roof on Arthur Ashe stadium and further develop the strategic transformation of the USTA BJKNTC and building on what Lucy and Jon’s boards had started is very important to keep the US Open at the forefront of Grand Slam tennis. Another important decision was to build the new home of American tennis in Lake Nona which will break ground in April and be completed in the fall of 2016. This will be the inclusive gathering place for American tennis from the grassroots level to the high performance player development level and everything in between. Equally as important, the board put the proper resources and commitment to grassroots tennis- developing our future by emphasizing ten and under tennis with shorter courts, smaller racquets, balls and equipment sized right for our youth to begin tennis and have the best first experience possible. I am most proud to have been part of the board who were not afraid to make bold decisions for the future strength of the USTA- we will look back and see the positive contributions that were made by this outstanding board.”
Tennis is growing and changing. It’s more kid-friendly and family friendly. What do you see as some of the more exciting aspects of the sport these days?
“About 1/3 of the US population is 50+ which means there are going to be lots of grandparents (and parents) that can connect with under 10 players to start them in tennis. With the shorter courts kids and grandparents can play on the same size court allowing for success for the younger players as they start tennis and make it a family activity.”