For some, an occasional trip to the U.S. Open might be the highlight of a lifetime.
For Delaine Mast, it’s a regular occurrence.
The McCaskey girls tennis coach has been traveling to New York for the tournament since 1972. And while it’s obviously a special occasion, it’s only one part of her many contributions to tennis.
As executive director of Tennis Central, which promotes and develops tennis in Lancaster County, her task is bringing the sport to boys and girls, including some trips to New York. It is just one of many trips she takes.
“I’m on a plane (Saturday) morning (to Florida) and I’m back Sunday night,” she said as her McCaskey players competed in a Lancaster- Lebanon League Section One match Friday at Conestoga Valley. “I’m talking to 50 women who are joining the PTR, which is a tennis professional certification organization in the U.S., and we’re trying to recruit more women ... because the teaching pro industry is mainly men.”
She is part of several other organizations, including Billie Jean King’s World Team Tennis, which has among its honors, the Delaine Mast Award that goes to a league director who contributes to the growth of tennis and WTT.
But getting kids involved in what could be a lifetime activity is what really is her passion.
“I enjoy being involved with the kids,” she said. “I love the haves and the havenots being together because they learn from each other. I love having those who are not committed to playing tennis for life learning that there’s a sport they can have in their back pocket to meet friends and just stay active. Because that’s my goal.”
It all started at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where she was born. In college, her desire was to play basketball for legendary Volunteers coach Pat Summitt, but she ended up walking on the tennis team, where she played, though sparingly.
“I’m still a big Tennessee Vol,” she said, noting that sports were a big part of her life and helped her grow up.
“Sports saved me as a person,” she said, “which is why I want to do this for them.”
Soon after moving to Lancaster to take at job at Hempfield Rec Center (then Four Seasons), good friend Judy Levering, who was coach of the McCaskey girls and went on to become the first woman president of the USTA, informed her Mc-Caskey’s boys tennis head coaching spot was open. Thirty-seven years later, she’s still there.
Part of her trips to New York are to attend a USTA meeting. This year, she also brought along supporters of Tennis Central, who were treated to a gathering at King’s suite in the city.
“Then I came home and took a busload of kids up to the U.S. Open,” she said. “They got to go hit on the court, meet the players and then stay for the matches.”
So how long, after 37 years at McCaskey, will Mast continue wearing her many hats?
“Till I drop over,” she said. “It’s what keeps me young.
Each L-L section has an unbeaten team which appears destined for titles.
Manheim Township, unbeaten yet again at 9-0, 6-0 in Section One, closes with winless McCaskey today.
Lancaster Country Day (11-0, 7-0 Section Three) has 4-3 Lancaster Catholic, also today.
Perhaps the most intriguing and less certain situation is in Section Two, where Manheim Central has lost just one game in its six section matches. The Barons (14-0, 6-0) finish today at Elizabethtown (8-4, 5-1) and will need to win that for the outright title.
The Bears lost 5-2 to Lampeter-Strasburg (9-2, 3-1) Sept. 19. The Pioneers are the only Section Two team to win a game against Manheim Central.
There was plenty of league action in the past week to 10 days, and now the postseason is upon us. The L-L team tournament gets underway with two matches Thursday. The top team in the District Three power rankings in Class 3A and 2A each get a first-round bye. Higher seeds are the hosts.
The semifinals are today and the final is Tuesday.