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Hall of Fame Class of 2008

August 10, 2007 09:35 PM

The long-awaited Mercer County Tennis Council announcement has come, and its Hall of Fame class of 2008 is impressive. To be inducted on February 23 at the Trenton Country Club dinner and induction ceremonies are Carl Abbott, Stan Dlugosz, Louise Gengler, Dave Haggerty, and Jay Lapidus.

 

Although the Mercer County Tennis Hall of Fame was established in 1992, its policy of inducting new members every four years has made this event quite special, as this will only be the fifth such happening. A diverse group of some 50 community tennis leaders were the voters, and they have spoken. The incoming inductees have amazing and varied backgrounds in tennis.

 

Carl Abbott is the ultimate grassroots tennis player. Abbott had a 43-year career in education and 30 in coaching. It was later, however, when he first picked up a tennis racket and became an ambassador for his adopted sport. He gave free lessons at Veterans Park and introduced tennis to anyone who would listen. Now in his early 90s, Abbott contines to play tennis and has attained legendary status. In 1998, Hamilton Township dedicated the Veterans Park courts in his name, and the official name of the complex is now the Carl “Ace” Abbott Tennis Center.

 

Stan Dlugosz recently retired from 35 years of coaching tennis at Mercer County Community College, but his legend goes much deeper. The subject of a recent Times column, Dlugosz excelled in other sports before taking up tennis later in life. He developed the soccer program at Mercer before finding a passion for tennis and building that program from scratch. He has coached kids from all over the world and influenced their lives, and he has reached out to local players of all ages to be on his teams. He conducted clinics and leagues throughout his years at Mercer and also became a fine player with a national ranking.

 

Louise Gengler retired as the Princeton University varsity women’s tennis coach three years, after a 25 year stint. While leading the Tigers to seven Ivy League titles, Gengler always found time to give back to the local and national communities. She started a program in which she took inner-city kids to Trenton Thunder baseball games and other special events and gave them a related academic lesson. She has volunteered for the National Junior Tennis League of Trenton and also played a large role in many advancements of women’s college tennis through her involvement in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.

Since his beginnings as a standout tennis player who went on to play collegiate tennis and some professional events and teach tennis locally, Dave Haggerty has become a well-known and influential leader in the tennis industry. His corporate career started at Prince and he went on to become the president of Dunlop and Slazenger Racquet Sports. Currently, Haggerty is the President and CEO of Head USA and Penn Racquet Sports. He is also the president of the Tennis Industry Association and a member of the USTA Board of Directors, both volunteer positions. Haggerty continues to reside in Mercer County and support area events.

Jay Lapidus grew up in Princeton and became a nationally renowned tennis player while a student at the Lawrenceville School in the mid-1970s and at Princeton University, from which he graduated in 1981.  Lapidus enjoyed a successful career playing professional tennis. He achieved a world ranking of No. 34 and competed in six US Opens, three Wimbledons, two French Opens, and four Australian Opens. During his career, he registered wins over top players such as Vitas Gueralaitis, Jose Higueras, Jose-Luis Clerc, Tim Mayotte, Brad Gilbert, and Aaron Krickstein. Lapidus is currently the coach of the Duke University men’s tennis team.

 

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