There was no way the Welland Tennis Club could kick off its 104th season without paying respects to Dutchy. At age 95 Dutchy Doerr, the former club pro and long-time member, passed away in July 2016 due to pancreatic cancer. He played the sport he loved – tennis – until two months before he died, and so it was fitting that the club gathered during its annual season kick-off open house to remember him and name one of its four clay courts in his honour.
“Surely the Welland Tennis Club has to be the house that Dutchy built,” said former member Al DiCenso, who became close with Doerr in the mid 1970s. Like many in attendance DiCenso remembered the former pro as an avid tennis player and solid friend who was quick with a joke or eccentricity.
“I loved Dutchy, we all did,” said William Thomas, adding, “he was a complete eccentric, who tapes all their cuts and blisters with black electrical tape.” Thomas was quick to praise the former pro’s sense of humour, a characteristic Thomas said Doerr kept to the very end.
“He touched so many lives,” said Dale Hajdu. He noted Doerr’s legacy carries on in all the individuals he coached and mentored. Among those individuals is United States Tennis Association CEO Stacey Allaster, who sent comments for the dedication.
She remembered being conned by Doerr into doing his job of sweeping and dragging the courts. “He was setting me up for a lifetime career in the sport he loved,” wrote Allaster, adding, “It’s still hard to believe that it all started on this court, in this club, with this man.”
She pointed out much of his advice still sticks with her, including to focus on having friends in life who are kind and fun. “This was the best advice he gave me.”
“Dutchy Doerr was an exceptional man … a small man in stature, with a kind heart, huge laugh and a big smile that made him stand much taller,” said DiCenso. “As a coach he kept things very simple. He always focused on the people he was teaching, he met the needs of the people he was teaching. His goal when he was teaching was ‘Try your best, treat others well, keep it simple and laugh a lot.’”
Harold (Dutchy) Doerr was the club’s manager and teaching pro for 20 years before he retired and moved to London, Ont., in 1992.
[Thanks to the Welland Tribune and Niagara This Week for this information.]