I was recently in Newport, Rhode Island, covering the Tennis Hall Of Fame induction Ceremony and the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Grass Court ATP Tournament
I walked down the steps of the press room smack into my fellow Marco Island tennis pro Doug Browne.
The place was a three-ring circus, the public grass courts were full of happy tennis players experiencing the game the unique way it was meant to be played. It is, after all, technically, Lawn Tennis.
The walkway between the clubhouse and the courts was packed with vendor and sponsor tents, hawking everything from the latest tennis fashions and equipment to hotdogs and cold beer.
The ATP pros were playing matches on the stadium court, clinics being run on the back courts (all grass courts) and there was Doug overseeing it all.
Normally in summer, Doug would be geared down a little from the grueling dawn to dusk, eight-month-long winter tennis season at the Hideaway Beach Club.
This spring however, he got a call out of the blue from Chris Clouser, a former club member of Doug’s when he worked at the Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minnesota.
As it turns out, Mr. Clouser is currently the chairman of the board of the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the call was prompted by the abrupt resignation of the tennis director at the Hall of Fame.
Clouser needed a huge favor if it could possibly be arranged. He needed Doug to get to Newport as soon as possible to take over the operation for the summer.
Doug approached the board at Hideaway with the proposal that he leave for the summer and go to Newport to help Clouser out, assuring them that Leslie Browne, Doug’s wife and associate professional at Hideaway, could run the show in his absence.
The Hideaway folks were very gracious and consented to the proposal, so Doug was off to New England.
His position in Newport consists of organizing and running numerous tennis and social events during the course of the week, quite often three or four a day, as well as hobnobbing with many of the greats in tennis, like Tony Trabert, Donald Dell, Barry Mckay, Mark Woodforde and commentator Bud Collins. He also had the opportunity to meet comedian Steve Martin who was playing with his band at one of the events, a folk festival.
Trabert, a huge influence in tennis, is president of the Hall of Fame. He complimented Doug on how well he was running the many events.
Collins, of the flashy pants, a famous tennis commentator, takes credit for bringing the volatile tennis great John McEnroe to the commentator’s booth. According to Browne, Collins said he urged those in charge to allow McEnroe to share Collins’ booth, with Collins saying, ‘he will be good some day.’
Unfortunately, Doug’s other duties has limited his teaching schedule to only a few hours a week. Like most career tennis pros he loves teaching and misses the student pro interaction that we all consider the best part of the job.
If you are traveling through New England this summer make it a point to get to Newport and drop into the Hall Of Fame to say hi to Doug.
Doug will be wrapping up his summer position and begin the drive back to Marco in mid-September.
He should have some great stories to tell this winter!
Howie Burnett is the tennis professional at Island Country Club on Marco Island.