Kingdon is quintessential volunteer
To The Editor:
Kingdon Gould Jr. will be the recipient of a “Spirit of the Catskills” award, an honor bestowed by the Belleayre Coalition at its annual Snowball on January 26, in recognition of his dedication to the area.
One of his most important contributions has been his long-tern affiliation with the Fleischmanns Tennis Tournament. I would like to share facets of this conjoined history and acknowledge his influential input, which contributed, immeasurable to the success of the tournament during the three decades in which he was a driving force and I served as tournament director.
On the occasions when, prior to the tournament, there would be a shortage of registrants, Kingdon would recruit from the ranks of family, friends, houseguests, any and all ready, willing, and able bodies. Often his captive reservoir of “volunteers” would be none of the above. One unforgettable example was a middle-aged woman on crutches who gamely took her assigned place in the lineup.
On tournament mornings Kingdon would arrive early to help hammer in the pegs for erecting the tent. He was always the quintessential volunteer, offering to call lines pre or post his own matches. With our all-to-frequent weather delays, Kingdon was one of the first to reach for a brush or roller to rid the court of puddles. He never joined the whining minions who complained about waiting or the seed or other issues.
Many years ago, sitting with me on a splintered bench, Kingdon said, “wouldn’t it be great if we had a tent.” Ignoring my skeptical face, he responded to his own inquiry by circulating among the players with an emptied tennis-ball can, soliciting contributions. Who would refuse Kingdon? The following year we had our tent. The tent became the tournament hub, a place to hang out, socialize, a refuge from the sun and rain, where players and spectators gathered for the trophy and awards presentations, where benefit auctions were held and where lunch was shared.
The trophy cup, which is engraved with the names of all division champions, was acquired by Kingdon who conceived of the idea and executed it in his inimitable manner, collecting donations from the crowd.
Kingdon renamed the tournament “The Fleischmanns International Open” because the roster always included players from around the globe as well as a large contingent of Polish “locals.”
Kingdon was fiercely competitive and played to win. He displayed a veteran’s wily moves, finesse, and psychological maneuvers deployed against the strength and power of youth, often winning.
Inducted in the Fleischmanns Tennis Hall of Fame in 2009, Kingdon was recognized for his record of contributing on multiple levels as a dynamic activist in the tennis community.
The transition from 12 players competing on two cracked asphalt courts to the 34th and final tournament with more than 60 registrants and a beautiful fenced in, four-court complex was made possible by the support of outstanding individuals.
The tennis “family” offers accolades, and our gratitude for the role our “patriarch” has played in this amazing transformation. Kingdon Gould has been an inspiration, our icon, and truly represents the “Spirit of the Fleischmanns Tennis Tournament,” now and always.
Sindy Becker, Ph.D