On any given day, Coach Denise Dunn can be found instructing, coaching, or playing on a tennis court somewhere in the York-Adams area, probably in a program she helped breathe into existence.
As the Chief Operating Officer with an MBA in Government Contracting handling over 80,000 government contracts in the greater DC area, this military-matriarch-turned-inspiring-coach knows a thing or two about getting things done.
Her current goal: Break ground on an indoor tennis facility.
In partnership with the Community Tennis Association (CTA), for which Dunn is the Director of Programs, the goal should be realized within the next few years at the Southwestern (Emory H. Markle) Middle School tennis courts on Bowman Road.
The facility will house 3+ courts with lines for 12 and under as well as 2 pickleball courts.
“These [pickleball] courts are great because they are used by the eight and under kids,” Dunn said.
Since 2004, Dunn has felt the need for indoor space and a place to call home for the multiple Junior Tennis Teams (8 and under; 12 and under, and 14 and under) she directs and the high school teams she coaches.
While sharing space with other teams and facilities has been simply a part of the method of operation over the years, along with the “generosity of Hanover Borough regarding the West Hanover courts,” Dunn noted that it also highlights the strong relationships within the tennis community in the area fostered by a passion for the sport.
Love Means Everything
While there is a tough and strong business side to this legendary coach, her colleagues and athletes see more.
“She is determined, patient, and compassionate,” said Vickie Neudecker, Junior Development Director and pro at West Winds Tennis & Fitness in New Market, Maryland. “She will do anything for them [her players and colleagues].”
Having worked with Dunn for 11 years, Neudecker has seen the rapport with the athletes, and her “ability to be firm and so, so generous” at the same time. “This is a game of honor,” she continues, “and she teaches the girls to play with integrity.”
Abigail Kilkelly, a freshman on the Girls’ Delone Catholic High School’s tennis team knows “the best thing about playing tennis for Coach Dunn,” she affirms, “is the way she pushes you because she knows how good a person can be.”
Senior teammate Emily Ritter concurs. Coach Dunn “not only has shown us the importance of winning, but also has taught us to accept our losses as motivation for winning.”
Beyond the Baseline
“I saw what tennis could do,” she says, “for developing a competitive spirit.”
That same spirit has kept Dunn active on the tournament circuit in doubles while still playing singles recreationally.
A multisport athlete, Dunn discovered tennis to be the lifetime sport for staying active and healthy beyond the college years, and she wanted to pass that passion on to athletes and non-athletes of all ages.
“That’s one of the reasons I moved to Hanover,” she claims, “because it is a great place to raise children and grow tennis.”