I first met Doug MacCurdy in 1986 at the European Coaches Conference in Torquay. I was representing Ireland there and he had been recently appointed as the Director of Development for the ITF. I was struck not only by his tennis knowledge and presence but, more important, by the time he took to speak with the less experienced coaches like me.
After that our paths crossed quite often. I attended a one-week Olympic-funded course in Peterborough in 1986 that he conducted (we played tennis every night on the indoor courts until close to midnight!) and saw him again at the 1987 Worldwide Coaches Conference in Mallorca. I remember that prior to Doug making a key note presentation, Jim Loehr hooked him up on a heart rate monitor. Throughout the presentation that followed, Doug’s heart rate hardly changed which illustrated very well how incredibly calm he is under pressure.
Doug hired me as the Assistant Director of Development in 1991 and I had the pleasure to work closely with him over the following 7 years. We worked together on numerous development projects involving coach education, high performance player development, participation and competition. I learned so much from Doug. His attention to detail, his ability to adapt to different cultures, his great people skills, his leadership and vision, his loyalty and support to his ITF team. But what stood out the most was his humility and his genuine interest in the many people that he met in his travels around the world.
I have so many Doug stories. One makes me laugh today. In a very hot and humid Cote D’Ivoire at an African tennis meeting, when people were arguing and screaming across the table, Doug turned to me and said dryly: “Dave, someday all of this can be yours!”
Doug is a visionary and sees the developments in tennis better than anyone I know. Over 20 years ago, Doug was presenting at a coach conference on the groundstrokes. At the end of his presentation he was asked about the future of tennis and he said that he thought tennis was moving to where players would soon hit their forehands more like a serve throwing action, using their body to generate similar power to the serve. People laughed thinking it was a joke, but look at the forehand today.
After resigning from the ITF, Doug was Director of High performance at the USTA and then spent 2 years working with the Federations in China, Korea, Thailand, India and Turkey. I visited Doug in China in 2006 and was impressed with his ability to drive in Beijing (not easy for a foreigner) and with his command of Chinese. In every country that he visited, Doug was accepted and trusted very quickly because he was adaptable and respectful of the people and the customs. That’s the special person he is.
Doug is a great presenter and has this rare ability to demonstrate complicated tennis specific technical, tactical and scientific matters in a very simple, practical and understandable way.
Doug loves to play tennis. He is very competitive and at the ITF he, Thomas Halgren, Bill Babcock and myself used to have great battles on the Queens Club courts with no prisoners taken by Doug!
Between 1992 and 1997, he and I visited all of the former Soviet Republics and former Yugoslavia states as they became new members of the ITF. It was an exciting time and on our return we would laugh as we shared many of our adventures in these fast-changing countries which at that time were in turmoil.
I personally owe Doug a great deal. I took over from him at the ITF in 1998 and inherited a fantastic development program and team, and was able to continue his work with the Development Program, which was regarded by the IOC as one of the best in international sports.
Doug MacCurdy is one of the world’s most knowledgeable tennis coaches with expertise in high performance player development, participation/club development and coach education. I feel privileged to have worked with and learned from him and, most importantly, to have him as my good friend.