World tennis icon Dennis van der Meer, who coached champions on many levels, including Billie Jean King, Margaret Court and Amanda Coetzer, died late Saturday afternoon, aged 86, at Hilton Head Hospital after a long illness.
The legendary tennis coach, who was known as a ‘teacher of tennis teachers’, was the founder and president of the Van Der Meer Tennis University and the Professional Tennis Registry (PTR).
Born in 1933 in a small village in Namibia, Van der Meer was the son of missionaries.
At the age of six, he was introduced to a rudimentary form of tennis by his mother, who was trying to keep him occupied as they travelled to rural areas. He fell in love with the sport.
His family then moved to Cape Town, South Africa, which is where he got his first professional tennis lessons.
Van Der Meer rapidly progressed to the provincial level.
He claimed his background of limited equipment, no backdrops, and few tennis balls made him appreciate the consistency and gave him the ability to rally forever with one ball.
He emigrated to America in 1961 and arrived on Hilton Head in 1979, where he brought worldwide recognition to the island as a tennis destination and a place important to the game.
Van Der Meer’s teaching career spanned more than 50 years and he coached numerous Grand Slam and National Junior Champions.
He provided a series of handbooks and manuals by bringing together the finest educators to write on their areas of expertise.
Also, to compliment the vast collection of written materials, he produced a large number of videos to illustrate teaching techniques. He also presented tennis coaching sessions on US television.
Since the mid-1970s, hundreds of thousands worldwide have learned to teach tennis in ways developed by Van der Meer.
In partnership with ANA and Mediapix