Donald L. Dell
Dell, a Davis Cup team member in his tennis playing days and the captain of the 1968 and 1699 U.S. Davis Cup teams that won two consecutive World Championships, co-founded the event now known as the Citi Open, along with his friend John Harris, in 1969. Shortly after his retirement as an active player, Dell practiced law at Hogan & Hartson before deciding to make a career transition to promoting sporting events and representing athletes like Arthur Ashe and fellow Davis Cupper, Stan Smith.
Dell played an important part in securing players, such as Ashe and Smith, for that very first tournament because the top players in the country and the world seldom came to Washington, DC, as there were no pro tournament in the nation’s capital. The tournament, under the leader ship of Dell and Harris, grew steadily after that first year. The tennis events prospered so much that he and Harris donated their ownership interests in the tournament in 1972 to the WTEF to provide a major source of funding for its junior tennis programs. The Foundation then became the sole owner of the tournament, and retained Dell’s new company, ProServ, as its tournament manager and promoter.
He and Harris continued as tournament co-chairmen until 1994.
Dell’s view of the relationship between the tennis tournament and the Foundation’s mission, and his work in implementing this goal, is perhaps his biggest contribution to the WTEF. Dell stated: "The concept was very simple. We looked around and thought why don’t we take tennis fans with tennis dollars and put the money back into the junior tennis programs in Washington, the inner city, and the suburbs?" This concept helped empower the WTEF and helped raise over $18 million dollars that went directly into supporting local area youth tennis programs.
It is because of his commitment and service to the WTEF for over 40 years that we are happy to include Donald Dell in the inaugural WTEF Hall of Fame class.
Dell is currently a Director Emeritus for the WTEF and was Chairman of ProServ, and is now Group President of Lagardere Unlimited, in which he serves as Tournament Chairmen for the Citi Open.