A Sporting Paradise: In 1968, a tennis haven was born in Vermont

It’s been more than 35 years since Ronald Reagan stated, during his first inaugural address, “Those who say that we’re in a time when there are no heroes, they just don’t know where to look.” We discovered heroes in every state, starting with the determined 69-year-old who won a match at an ITF Pro Circuit event earlier this year in the Alabama town of Pelham, and culminating with the coach who has overcome multiple sclerosis to build a winning program at the University of Wyoming. Their compelling stories of courage, perseverance and achievement demonstrate that the message delivered by our 40th President rings as true today as it did then.

Ted Hoehn was 25 years old when he got a job offer to take over for his father as the head tennis professional at Longwood Cricket Club—one of the oldest and most prestigious tennis clubs in the world—in Chestnut Hill, MA.

He turned it down.

Instead, he risked his reputation and livelihood to start a summer tennis camp for kids with his Vermont-based business partner, Alden Bryan. It was 1968, perhaps the most significant year in tennis history as the Open era officially began. Hoehn, who had a successful college tennis career at the University of North Carolina and went on to play at several well-known European tour stops, chose to forego the prize-money potential of a pro career.

“I had a lot of youngsters that I gave lessons to in college,” says Hoehn, who also served as a tennis coach at West Point. “I always enjoyed working with kids. It was something I dreamed about doing for a living.”

A Sporting Paradise: In 1968, a tennis haven was born in Vermont

A Sporting Paradise: In 1968, a tennis haven was born in Vermont

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Just seven years into their venture, Hoehn and Bryan had a full enrollment and a lengthy waiting list at their original campsite in picturesque Jeffersonville, VT. Expansion soon followed with the purchase of two other Vermont campsites, including a world-famous horseback riding venue. With that final addition, it became what parents and children know today as Windridge Tennis & Sports Camps. The facility consists of 22 tennis courts, two regulation soccer fields and horse stables.

In Hoehn’s 49 years as the owner and director, he’s seen more than 25,000 campers learn sports that they would enjoy for a lifetime. And while Windridge has become a summer-camp staple for many wealthy families in the northeast, Hoehn doesn’t miss an opportunity to award scholarships.

Bounce Williams was one of those scholarship recipients nearly 40 years ago. From a poor area in Antigua, he arrived at Windridge on the same day as a boy named Thère du Pont, son of the sitting governor of Delaware and an heir to the DuPont chemical fortune. Within hours, du Pont and Williams were arm in arm as they marched to dinner that first night. It’s an emotional memory for Hoehn.

“Tennis is a universal sport,” he says. “Your background doesn’t really matter. Bounce lived in a shack in Antigua. Thère was from a mansion. Yet within our walls, none of that mattered.”

As Hoehn approaches his 50th and final season as owner and CEO of Windridge, he looks to leave a lasting legacy.

“I’d like it to be one of giving kids the opportunity to go off to a new environment and improve upon sports and activities they enjoy,” he says. “I hope we gave them a chance to do that away from academic and family pressures.”