DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD

2016 RECIPIENT

GUNDARS TILMANIS - Portland, Oregon

Gundars Tilmanis first spoke at the Tennis Workshop in 1984, the eighth clinic hosted by the MHSTeCA at the Eastpointe Racquet Club. At the time, he was – to employ a Southern expression – “walking in tall cotton,”  his fellow clinicians being Nick Bollettieri, Dennis Van der Meer, Clarence Mabry, Chuck McKinley, and Jeff Frank. It was this kind of stellar line-up which made the early years of the workshop so respected.

Since then, Til has appeared in 15 of the 40 annual conferences and for good reason. The surveys that Bob Wood and Gary Bodenmiller so assiduously used to read each Saturday afternoon after the workshop had a common theme: Bring him back.

“He was the only speaker who brought Gary and Bob a little gift from Oregon,” says Kathy Wood. “It might be a wooden duck or a cutting board or salad tongs made of Oregon myrtlewood, a rare and beautiful wood.”

For his part, Bob praises “his enthusiasm, his knowledge of the sport, and his willingness to be available and interact with the conferees. Gundars always seemed happy and friendly…. and he loved his Oregon Ducks.”

Gundars is a USPTA Elite professional who is a clinician for both the USTA and the International Tennis Federation(ITF). Bob and Gary first met him at the National Tennis Teachers Conference in New York City in September of 1983. Internationally recognized, he possesses an extensive teaching background and a quick wit.

And sure enough, on one memorable Friday morning, he accidentally sent a ball up into the ballroom chandelier at the Troy Marriott. Many of us were there and on our hands and knees picking up shards while Bob worried the rest of the day about the possible replacement cost (there was none).

“Bob has raved about Gundars for years,” says Workshop Director Peter Militzer. “With Bob, Kathy and Gary not doing the workshop, Amanda and I stated that we wanted to keep things as close to "normal" as possible. So we obviously wanted to invite Gundars back again.Gundars replied immediately and he was the consummate pro in doing so - supplying all the information even before we requested it (bio, photo, topic and outline). He even offered to do one session on court and another off court.”

“Gundars always delivers a positive message and coaches learn something each time they attend his talks,” continues Peter. “We are so fortunate that he was able to come back this year, as it wouldn’t seem like a workship if he weren’t here with his classic ‘Presidential serves.’”

“I can't think of another non-local pro who has been here more often.” In other words, he has played an integral part in the annual workshop being a success.

Clearly, Gundars is not hurting professionally. Indeed, he is an exceedingly busy man. He has delivered a broad range of tennis related lectures to audiences throughout the world. During the past seven years, he has lectured in the United States, Japan, Guatemala, Spain, Paraguay, Argentina, Canada and Australia. His innovative, energetic style of coaching has drawn praise throughout the tennis world.

He has had fresh, new topics that have been beneficial,” says Allegan’s Gary Ellis.  “I think what he offers is often more directly applicable to most of the coaches in the room than some other presenters.  He also makes his books available at a reasonable cost to coaches.”

Born in Riga, Latvia and raised in Melbourne, Australia, Til currently resides in Portland, Oregon, teaches at the Sherwood Tennis Complex, and runs tennis workshops throughout the world. We are fortunate that this includes Detroit.

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