Tennis Industry magazine


Person of the year: Don Tisdel

By Peter Francesconi

Anyone who’s ever undertaken a construction or renovation project knows there are a lot moving parts. This is especially true of the major projects the USTA has pursued in recent years.

Creating the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla., and the continued renovations and reconstruction at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York took a lot of planning on all fronts, not least how to make it all work financially. This is where Donald Tisdel shines.

“Don’s knowledge and expertise in the financial area is invaluable,” says USTA President & CEO Katrina Adams. “He’s that ‘EF Hutton’ person on our board: When he speaks, everyone listens. You know he’s evaluated and surveyed everything before coming out with an opinion.”

An avid tennis player, Tisdel, who recently moved with his wife, Gerri, from Lake Oswego, Ore., to the Seattle, Wash., area, has been on the USTA Board of Directors since 2005, serving as secretary-treasurer from 2007 to 2012, and then as a vice president. While he’s retiring as a board member at the end of 2016, Adams says Tisdel will become a presidential appointee. “It still allows me to pick up the phone and lean on him,” she says.

Behind the scenes, Tisdel’s rare combination of business knowledge, passion for tennis and drive to grow this sport has helped push the envelope for the USTA and this industry. In many ways, it could be argued that without his financial leadership, the USTA might not have had the courage to tackle the National Tennis Center and National Campus projects, both critical to the growth of the sport and industry. And it’s why Tisdel is Tennis Industry’s 2016 Person of the Year.

“He’s an unbelievable guy,” says Kurt Kamperman, USTA chief executive of Community Tennis and the National Campus. “He loves this game. He’s a wiz financially, and he’s truly selfless.

“His impact and influence on key initiatives and projects the USTA undertook in the last 10 years cannot be overstated.”

“In a lot of ways, Don is probably the strongest, most qualified person never to have been president of the USTA,” adds Dave Haggerty, a former USTA president who is now president of the International Tennis Federation. “He’s had a big impact on the financing on many projects. He’s saved the USTA a lot of money.”

For his part, Tisdel remains all-in when it comes to promoting tennis.

“Tennis has been the foundation for me throughout my life and opened doors that wouldn’t have opened otherwise, including the fabulous experience I’ve had with the USTA,” he says. “But I’m just one of a group of people that has brought the USTA to where it is. I’m very proud to be associated with so many good people over so many years.”

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About the Author

Peter Francesconi is editorial director of Tennis Industry magazine.



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