Tennis Runs in the Family
McDermott family’s multigenerational love of the game of a lifetime
WHEELING NATIVES Laurie and Greg McDermott met as young lawyers when they returned to the friendly city to begin practicing law. They became friends and started dating. Laurie says they started playing tennis early on.
They got married, built a successful practice, have two beautiful daughters, Morgan now 26, and Jackie 24, and over 30 years later, the couple continues to enjoy the sport.
“My parents Jack and Barbara Dobkin played. They introduced me to tennis as a child and I took lessons at both Oglebay and Wheeling Park“. Laurie has played in US Tennis Association team tennis leagues, and in local tournaments.
“My dad, Jim McDermott was a Junior West Virginia State Champion and played at Xavier University. He got me interested in the game when I was young, but Laurie was the catalyst to bring me back to the game as an adult.” Greg has competed in USTA league play and tournaments, and previously served as the Wheeling-Oglebay Tennis Club president for a number of years. He also served on the USTA/Allegheny Mountain District Board of Directors. The McDermotts were named the Allegheny Mountain District Family of the Year in 2013.
With both families being big tennis players, it comes as no surprise that Morgan and Jackie started lessons at Oglebay at ages five and three respectively. “Once they started lessons, we were in the park five plus days a week for the next twenty years,” Greg shared. “We’ve gotten so much out of the game of tennis as a family and it all started at Oglebay.”
Morgan and Jackie were OVAC champions at The Linsly School. “The girls really enjoyed playing together at Linsly,” said Laurie. Morgan went on to play successfully at Wittenberg University and Jackie at Oberlin College.
The sport took the family all over the country and to several international destinations. “We’ve had so much fun playing at other facilities around the country and world. Oglebay’s tennis facilities rank right up there with some of the finest facilities that we have seen anywhere. The courts are in beautiful shape, but as an older facility some enhancements are needed to keep it in a competitive condition,” Greg added.
Greg was named a Wheeling Park Commissioner in 2018. Not long after his appointment to the commission he walked the tennis facility with Rod Haley, Oglebay’s executive vice president of operations and Eriks Janelsins, Oglebay Foundation president & CEO. Together they made a wish list of possible improvements. “Laurie and I want to make sure the Ohio Valley tennis community remains strong with first rate facilities. Whenever I’ve played in our USTA league matches at Oglebay the players and spectators would congregate on the grassy area by courts seven – eleven. I’ve always thought it would be a great place for a shelter that people would use and enjoy,” said Greg.
The McDermott Family Tennis Shelter will open in 2020. “We’re not just enthused about the shelter, but also the alternative racket facilities that are being added including new platform tennis and pickleball courts. Our hope is our gift will spark others’ interest in maintaining and preserving Oglebay,” said Laurie.
The shelter and upgraded facilities are part of the initial phase of an improvement plan that will include Wheeling Park facilities as well.
Greg went on, “I can’t put into words how much we love Oglebay. We are there virtually every single day: walking, playing tennis, skiing, dining. Some of our family’s best times and memories have happened here. We feel that giving back is a privilege and we are blessed to be able to do so.”
The Oglebay-Wheeling Tennis Association offers tennis clinics, classes and round robins at every level, and hosts USTA sanctioned tournaments for players of all ages and skill levels. Three certified tennis professionals are available for private or group lessons. The outdoor season at Oglebay is just getting started. Maybe tennis can bring generations of your family together too.