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Dees Loves Doubles: Teamwork Key For USTA New England Coach

October 28, 2011 05:57 PM
Tennis lifer Calvin Dees has coached since his teens, and carries a special USTA New England squad to Surprise for the second-straight year.
By Ayana Miller, special to USTA.com

SURPRISE, Ariz. - Coach Calvin Dees has been playing – and coaching - tennis for as long as he can remember.

"I was probably born with a tennis racquet in my hand," joked Dees. "Tennis is embedded in my DNA, so it was only natural that I return to the sport I love."

Dees has coached a majority of his players since they were young - a lot of who were good kids and decent players, but were overlooked for the more athletic kids. "I’ve always wanted to teach kids that other people overlooked," said Dees. His dedication has paid off, as his USTA New England Intermediate Bloomfield Bobcats have reached Surprise and the Jr. Team Tennis 18 & Under National Championships for the second consecutive year. 

Dees has long been involved in "the sport of a lifetime." He played tennis as a youth and into his high school years at AI Prince Tech in Hartford, Conn., where he helped lead his team to three state championships in the late 70’s and early 80’s. All the while, Dees coached in the Greater Hartford Area since the age of 14, teaching players both younger and older than himself the finer points of tennis.
After graduation, Dees enrolled in Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina, where to his dismay, he learned that they didn’t have a tennis team. He went without playing on an active team through his college years, eventually making his return to organized tennis when he joined an American Tennis Association (ATA) league, a part of the nation’s oldest and longest-running African-American sports organization. Dees emerged as a top doubles player in the circuit, eventually reaching a No. 1 ATA national ranking.

Doubles has always been Dees passion, as he refers to himself as a "doubles specialist," and loves the camaraderie that Jr. Team Tennis provides.

"I teach my players to believe in themselves," said Dees. "If they believe in themselves then they will be confident and believe what they do. 

The Bobcats, based out of Bloomfield, Conn., had a stellar season but had to beat a really tough team from Massachusetts to get here. That win helped secure their spot into the National Championships once more and provides what they hope will be momentum to advance deep into the weekend.

No matter how they place, Dees is proud of the strides they’ve made and hope they can continue to build and grow as a team.

"If they take anything away from what I try to instill in them, I want it to be that unerring self-belief - then I’ll know I’ve succeeded."

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