Coaches - Head Pros

Dennis Van der Meer
Legendary coach and "Teacher of teachers," Dennis is the founder and president of the Van Der Meer Tennis University and the Professional Tennis Registry (PTR). Known worldwide for his innovative teaching techniques, he has received numerous awards for teaching and coaching, including being named "Olympic Developmental Coach of the Year" in 1997. He has been inducted into many Halls of Fame, and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Greenwich, England. Dennis became one of the first registered coaches of both the ATP and WTA, and has coached hundreds of nationally and internationally ranked professional and junior players throughout his career, including World champions in singles and doubles. He served as coach for both Billie Jean King and Margaret Court for the landmark "Battle of the Sexes" in the 70's. A believer in the concept of tennis for everyone, he developed courses and manuals for teaching wheelchair tennis and adaptive techniques. Dennis has always had an uncanny knack for finding the best, most efficient way to help players reach their maximum potential, a trait he has imparted to his staff coaches.

Pat Van der Meer
A graduate of American University in DC with a BA in education, Pat is an experienced coach at all levels. Having travelled the world with her husband, Dennis, they have coached players to the finals of Grand Slam Junior and Professional Events. Pat has been an Area Training Center Head Coach, and was named South Carolina Pro of the Year in 1991. In 1993 Pat earned the PTR's Coach Jim Verdieck Award for top coaches, and received the International Tennis Hall of Fame's Tennis and Education Merit Award in 2002. She has great enthusiasm for upholding Dennis' tradition of excellence, and understands the importance of positive energy in tennis and life.

Thomas Richter
Thomas Richter is a former Top 50 ITA player who has been working with the Van Der Meer Tennis Academy since 2009. He also works directly with our older Academy players preparing them for high-level tournaments, college tennis, and pro circuit events. Originally from Germany, Thomas was an All-Big South Conference athlete at Birmingham-Southern College before transferring to Indiana University, where he was named to the 2008 All-Big Ten team. There, he received his Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration followed by his Master's Degree in Sports Marketing.

Tommy Shimada
Tommy Shimada is a former ATP tour player currently working with the Van Der Meer Tennis Academy. He has been working with the Van Der Meer Tennis Academy since 2008, and he previously trained here as a player for nearly ten years. Tom reached a career high ATP world ranking of #40 in doubles, represented Japan in Davis Cup competition for over ten years, won 3 career ATP doubles titles, recorded doubles wins over the Bryan brothers, Roger Federer, and Andy Roddick, and was a 2000 Sydney Olympic participant. After his playing career, he graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in Finance and Real Estate.

Vince Bilotta
Vince is a head professional for Van Der Meer Tennis. As Director of Product Testing for Head® Sports since 1993, he oversees the U.S. testing site based at Van Der Meer Tennis Academy. Vince also served as a USTA Area Training Center Coach for North Carolina where he coached many top juniors. Vince played his collegiate tennis while attending Murray State University. He continues to work on court with many top players.

Etienne Dumas
Etienne, or ET as his friends call him, is a trilingual, International, World Class, Professional Tennis Coach/Instructor. Pros ET has worked alongside include Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Jennifer Capriati, Mary Pierce, Vania King, Pat Cash and Nenad Zimonjic. He has coached and trained top ITF World Ranked juniors focusing on building champions. Etienne believes they are the key to developing the future.

Elizma Nortje
A former WTA player, Elizma competed in tournaments such as Wimbledon and French Open. Having been based as a player at VDM Academy, she launched her coaching career after taking the TennisUniversity course with Dennis Van Der Meer. Elizma played NCAA Div 1 and graduated from United States International University, San Diego, CA.

Born in Namibia, she also competed for South Africa as a Junior Springbok player and was ranked #1 in u/14 to u/18 age groups. President of the Namibian Tennis Association (NTA) - 1996 to 1999, Elizma is also their Fed Cup Captain and Junior Fed Cup Captain. She has coached and managed many national and international teams worldwide since 1996.

A certified ITF Level 3 High Performance Tennis Coach (highest coaching qualification in the International Tennis Federation) she worked with many top Spanish tennis academies and players such as David Ferrer (ATP#3) and his team. As the ITF International Touring Coach she worked with the best European, Asian and African players such as Grigor Dimitrov (Bul) - ATP#23, Junior Wimbledon & U.S Open champion (2008)

Katie Ruth
Katie Ruth is the Fitness Director and a Senior Staff coach who has been at Van Der Meer Tennis Academy since 2014. She played NCAA DII tennis at Clayton State University, reaching the Sweet Sixteen and Final Four in 2010 and 2011. She was ranked #2 in NCAA for doubles resulting in being an All-American. She graduated in 2012 with a degree in Health & Fitness Management. Katie has fitness certifications with Etcheberry Fitness, and also with the International Tennis Performance Association as a Tennis Performance Trainer and as a Certified Tennis Performance Specialist.


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