LEAD COACHES 2021-02-01T14:57:42+00:00


dennis van der meerDennis Van der Meer – Founder

Legendary coach and “Teacher of teachers,” Dennis is the founder 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 meerPat 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 devilliersBrian 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 nortjeElizma 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.

katie ruthKatie Ruth – Head Pro & Fitness Director

Katie Ruth is the Fitness Director and Head Pro 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.