David Dunlap fought back tears Saturday afternoon as the four outdoor tennis courts at McMinnville Civic Center were officially named in his honor.
The four courts are now part of David Dunlap Tennis Complex, with one of the courts named for his late grandson, Jackson Dunlap.
“So many people have talked about the lives I’ve touched,” said Dunlap after listening to speeches about his character and commitment to tennis. “Well over the years there have been a lot of people who have touched my life. I’ve enjoyed the heck out of this. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Dunlap served as Warren County High School’s tennis coach from 1991 to 2003 and has been an enthusiastic advocate of the sport before and after his tenure as coach. He’s organized two annual tennis tournaments for decades, taught summer camps, and given individual tennis lessons.
The dedication ceremony came on the last day of the Security Federal Tennis Tournament with 87 entries from several counties. Shelbyville resident Chris King, a longtime friend of Dunlap, was among those competing in the tournament
“It’s a rite of passage getting beat in McMinnville by David Dunlap,” said King, who has made many trips here over the years to play in tennis tournaments.
Carlene Brown addressed the crowd and talked about how the David Dunlap Tennis Complex is part of what she calls the town’s recreational hall of fame. It’s next to Gilley Pool, named for Bill and Jean Gilley, and near several ballfields named for prominent contributors such as Edley Newman, Sam Martin and Jim Mansfield.
Parks and Recreation director Scott McCord said it’s hard to run into Dunlap and not see a tennis racket in his hand. He also joked about how Dunlap always seems to have a tennis racket for sale.
“He must have a trench coat with tennis rackets underneath it,” said McCord. He then asked Dunlap, “How many hours, days, months, and years have you spent on these courts?”
McMinnville Mayor Ben Newman talked about having Dunlap as a chess coach and his wife, Linda, as a kindergarten teacher.
“He led by example and he still does,” said Newman. “He has a lot of love for the sport and he encourages others to love it. You deserve to have this complex so the thousands of lives you’ve touched will remember your character.”
Newman noted how tennis is a sport that can be played throughout life. He said the late Riche Churchill didn’t start playing tennis until she turned 60 and played into her 80s – with a cane.
Lester Cowell joked that Dunlap used tennis lessons for his own personal gain when it came to tennis tournaments.
“He gave lessons, knew who all the good players were, and he made sure they were his partners,” said Cowell.