TENNIS ACADEMY OVERVIEW
Dennis Van der Meer – Founder
Hall of Famer Dennis was the founder of the Van Der Meer Tennis University and the Professional Tennis Registry (PTR). The legendary coach was known worldwide as the “Teacher of teachers,” for his innovative teaching and coaching 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 always had an uncanny knack for finding the best, most efficient way to help players reach their maximum potential, a trait he imparted to his staff coaches over his long career.
Pat Van der Meer
A graduate of American University in DC with a BA in education, Pat is an experienced coach at all levels. Pat and her husband Dennis teamed to coach 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 traveled extensively on the Junior Pro Circuit and WTA Tour coaching professional players such as Christina Papadaki, Amanda Coetzer and Liezel Horn (Huber). She also coached intersectionals for the Southern Tennis Association. She has great enthusiasm for upholding Dennis’ tradition of excellence and understands the importance of positive energy in tennis and life.
Brian DeVilliers – Academy Director
Brian traveled the world training coaches and players with Dennis and Pat Van der Meer, and helped launch the VDM Academy as a travel coach on the WTA Tour. He has developed and coached 5 top 40 WTA players, including the 2011 US Open Mixed Doubles Champion, Melanie Oudin. He joined Dennis Van der Meer in being honored as US Olympic Development Coach of the Year in 2008. He was named USPTA Southern Touring Coach of the Year in 2010, and is PTR and USPTA certified as Professional, in addition to holding IPTA, USTA High Performance, and USTA Sports Science certifications.
Tommy Shimada – ATP Tour Coach & Doubles Specialist
Tommy was based at VDM Academy for most of his ATP Tour career. He played Davis Cup for Japan and reached a career high of 40 in doubles. He has wins over the Bryan Brothers and Roger Federer, and he also participated in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. After his retirement from professional tennis, he earned his degree in finance and real estate from the University of South Carolina and returned to Hilton Head. Most recently, he worked as a Mens’ National Coach for the Japan Tennis Association in preparation for the Tokyo Olympic Games. He and his family are back in Hilton Head once again and Tommy is sharing his doubles expertise with our VDM Academy players.
Elizma Nortje – Head Pro & Director of Mental Toughness
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). Elizma heads up the mental toughness program at the Van Der Meer Tennis Academy.
David Anderson – Head Tennis Pro
David is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame where he received a tennis scholarship and was a 4-year letterwinner on the tennis team. David was based in Massachusetts where he was ranked #1 in New England and reached the Top 25 in the country for the USTA 18 and under division. He spent his junior year of high school training at Van Der Meer and credits this year of training for his jump in level and ranking.
David was a National Open Champion, New England Sectionals Champion, and received the New England Sportsmanship Award. David had an undefeated record during his high school tennis career and won the Massachusetts State Individual tournament in 2005. David was a finance major at the University of Notre Dame and spent the first 8 years of his career working on Wall Street. He made the decision to switch gears and pursue his passion of tennis.
Derek Porter – Head Tennis Pro & Director of College Placement
A graduate of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Derek is an experienced coach at all levels. He captained the UNC men’s tennis team and graduated with a BA degree in Communication Studies with a minor in Marketing. In 2006, Derek won the UNC Men’s Tennis Sportsmanship Award. Derek is a USPTA Elite Certified Professional and is a great team player in all senses of the word.
Natnael Zegdeta – Head Tennis Pro
Originally from Ethiopia, Nati trained at Van Der Meer Tennis for 2 seasons then played college tennis on scholarship at Prairie State College. The team finished top 8 at the NJCAA National Tournaments in 2019. After graduating, he transferred to the University of Nevada Las Vegas and received a degree in finance. He now splits his time at Van Der Meer on court and in the Marketing and Sales Department.