A Pirate You Can Rely On!
(article from Don Larson's Daily Tennis News)
In this age of rapid and constant change it can be comforting and gratifying to find that special something that will never let you down. I am referring to the tennis program at the Buccaneer Hotel on the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. In the revolving door world of hospitality, where it almost isn't worth the effort of remembering the hotel staff members names, because they almost certainly will not be there when you return, there is one Tennis Director who stands out above all others. PTR Pro Don deWilde has run the Buccaneer tennis program for a staggering 30 years.

Not surprisingly, in such beautiful surroundings, Don remains as enthusiastic about his job as he did the day he started, three decades ago. The facility boasts eight laykold hard courts of which two are lit, a fully stocked pro shop with stringing service, and a ball machine. But, according to deWilde, "what makes the program really special is the wonderful blend of hotel guests and local members who play together on a daily basis and take part in the regular weekly events such as clinics and round robins."

They must be doing a great job because at least half the guests return year after year and are always delighted to be able to play again with the friends they made on previous visits.

Over the years deWilde has taught his fair share of celebrities including veteran NFL quarterbacks Warren Moon and Jim Kelly. The NBA's Julius Erving and M.A.S.H. star Alan Alda have also put the courts to good use, but the guest who stands out in deWilde's mind was the late Senator Edward Kennedy who stayed several times and always followed up his lessons with a hand written thank you note!

In fact the list of famous names to have registered at the Buccaneer Hotel is almost endless but includes tennis greats Arthur Ashe and Donald Dell, President Jimmy Carter, heavyweight boxing champion Floyd Patterson, actors Kirk Douglas and Lauren Bacall, television legend Johnny Carson and the "King of Pop", Michael Jackson.

The hotel was opened in 1947 by the Armstrong family who, amazingly, still own and manage the property to this day. Besides the luxury beach view rooms you will also find a par 70 Bob Joyce designed golf course, operated by golf pro Tim Johnston who has also spent well over 30 years at the Buccaneer Hotel. A full Spa service and beach and water sports are also available. It almost goes without saying that the climate here is perfect for tennis twelve months of the year.

Tennis lessons are a very reasonable $70 per hour and court fees are $18 per day ($22 at night). For more information about the Buccaneer Hotel and tennis program you can contact Don deWilde directly at (340) 773-3036 or by e-mail at ddewild@attglobal.net . You can also see the hotel for yourself by visiting www.thebuccaneer.com . So, Don deWilde is a name you can ink in to your address book because you will more than likely return, year after year, and the coach will be waiting for you.