MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. -- From being a ranked professional tennis player, a restaurateur and an inventor, Mount Kisco's Lisa Dodson has done it all.
Growing up in Chappaqua and attending Horace Greeley High School, she is the only Westchester County athlete to be named All-County in four different varsity sports. She recently moved back to Mount Kisco from California and is working as a tennis pro at the Saw Mill Club.
Dodson began playing tennis as a kid, and excelled at Greeley where she won sectionals three times. She walked onto the tennis team at the University of North Carolina. She didn’t just excel at tennis, playing field hockey, basketball and volleyball. She was on the Eastern US volleyball team, and went to the Olympics trials in 1975 for women’s basketball.
After college, Dodson became a tennis coach, and a tennis pro at the Stanwich Club in Greenwich. She had an itch to play tennis professionally and a relative offered to sponsor her.
“Go see what you can do and play for three to four years,” Dodson was told. “You only get this one chance.”
Dodson joined the tour in her 20s, when many of her colleagues were thinking retirement. While many tennis players have gone to specialized tennis academies and had the game instilled in them, Dodson did not.
“I was just a good athlete that loved tennis,” Dodson said.
Dodson was ranked in the 200s in singles and in the 100s in doubles She played in a U.S. Open qualifying tournament, and won minor tournaments. She played around the world, including Mexico, Australia, England and Japan. She even played against, and was defeated by, Gabriela Sabatini.
“It was an incredible experience,” Dodson said.
The life of a tennis pro was hard, with constant practice. Despite traveling the world, there was little time for sightseeing. Dodson found it difficult to keep to her diet in foreign countries and found it to hard to make friends with people she was competing against. Despite some of the pressures, Dodson has no regrets.
“Getting to play at that level was one of the best experiences of my life,” Dodson said. “You want to win, but you have to be fair and ethical. I was on my best behavior.”
Dodson called tennis a selfish sport saying if you don’t think about yourself, you won’t be successful.
The serve and volley were Dodson’s strengths and she preferred to play on hard courts. Dodson grew up on the clay courts at Seven Bridges Club in Chappaqua. Often being older than her peers, Dodson’s endurance became another one of her strengths.
“I was able to outlast a lot of younger people,” Dodson said.
After leaving professional tennis, Dodson taught tennis in Pound Ridge and later opened up two restaurants in New Canaan, Conn. She later moved to Northern California where she continued to be involved in tennis.
Three years ago, Dodson added inventor to her resume with the Servemaster, a product designed to help people with their tennis serve. Dodson, who patented and now sells the product, still watches tennis, said it sometimes drives her nuts seeing how people serve.
“With the Servemaster, you feel how a serve is supposed to feel like,” Dodson said. “I rarely encounter a serve that’s technically sound. It’s great to teach with. Too many players have not been taught to serve properly."
Dodson moved back to Mount Kisco for personal reasons and said it feels great to be home teaching tennis. When she teaches, she emphasizes all aspects of the game so a player is well-rounded.
Dodson believes tennis is a sport for anyone, working with players ages four to 84 and hopes to pass on her love of tennis to others.
“I want to encourage people to find local programs and give it a try,” Dodson said. “It’s a fantastic sport to play.”
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