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"Coach Dick" Walther Inducted into USTA Eastern Hall of Fame

The Alternative Press Staff

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 • 9:56am

SUMMIT, NJ - Dick Walther, a Summit resident who has used the tennis to foster a sense of community in the Hilltop City, will be inducted into the The United States Tennis Association (USTA) Eastern Tennis Hall of Fame, April 25 at the Beach Point Club in Mamaroneck, NY.

Walther, 91 years young, did not play tennis growing up, and was not introduced to the game until he was in his 30's, when he returned home after serving his country in World War II.  In 1985, He became passionate about teaching and growing the game.

“It was retirement that triggered my interest in tennis,” said Walther. “I’ve been playing and working on projects in the community for the last 30 years.”
 
He has been pivotal in growing tennis through innovative programs.  A decade ago, Summit’s Board of Recreation was set to destroy many of the 16 public tennis courts.  This led Walther and a group of concerned citizens to band together and create the Summit Tennis Association.

Their effort has grown the game immeasurably. In fact, the number of court visits has more than tripled to 9,000 this past year alone.

Walther has coached and inspired seniors to play tennis for the first time with 10 and Under Tennis equipment. In fact, he recently was awarded the USTA’s Seniors’ Service Award for his efforts.

"Seniors generally feel they are too old and too slow to play the game," said Walther.  "But we've found that the slower bouncing, low compression balls make it easier for them to play tennis."  Due to combining the USTA’s technology with his love of tennis, he has helped ensure that many other seniors can begin playing across the country. 

Walther who was designated Eastern’s Leslie J. FitzGibbon Tennis Man of the Year in 2007, and New Jersey Volunteer of the Year in 2011, also coached in local schools.  “One of the best things was when I was coaching at Kent Place Girls School,” he said.  “Coaching has been so important to me over the years.  My philosophy has always been to make tennis a fun experience that has a lasting impact so that kids want to continue with the game."
 
Information from eastern.usta.com was used in this story.
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