| By Long Island Tennis Magazine Staff
Photo courtesy of Getty Images


The Long Island Region Council is heartbroken over the loss of longtime volunteer Daniel Burgess. One of the biggest champions of growing tennis on Long Island, Daniel served as Long Island Regional President for six years and was an active member of the Long Island Council for many years.

Daniel was extremely passionate about getting racquets into the hands of kids across Nassau and Suffolk Counties and recently worked with several school districts—including Freeport and North Merrick, as well as the Catholic Youth Organization—to introduce more children to the game. He organized countless free clinics across Long Island and was instrumental in the developing and maintaining the courts at the Bishop Frank O. White Park near his home in Freeport. For over 30 years, including this past summer, Daniel hosted a tennis summer camp through his non-profit, the Learning Institute of Tennis, Life Skills and Sportsmanship (www.tennislifeskills.org). He often allowed kids to attend free of charge if their parents could not afford the cost.

Within the Long Island Region, Daniel will be remembered for leading numerous initiatives to bring tennis out into the community including giving tennis lessons at the Merrick and Bellmore street fairs, among others, coordinating summer kids’ tennis days, creating tennis fundraisers for U.S. veterans and others, supporting wheelchair tennis programs and much more. He also founded the LI Region’s quarterly publication, “On the Ball: News from LI.”  Daniel was chair of the USTA Eastern Multicultural Committee and ran tennis programming for the Freeport Police Activity League (PAL) and the Merrick PAL. At the other end of the age spectrum, he brought tennis lessons into senior centers in Nassau County.

Daniel received numerous USTA awards recognizing over the years including, most recently, the Fran Osei USTA Eastern Community Service Award (2018) and the USTA Long Island Region Hy Zausner Lifetime Tennis Achievement Award.

Long Island’s Council members worked with Daniel on many of his volunteer endeavors. Here are the words of some of his USTA colleagues:

“Danny's past and present contributions to our Council as Past President (Regional Director) and Community Organizer were immeasurable.  To the date of his passing, he was always the first to contribute his time to volunteer at uncountable tennis related events across the Island and will forever be remembered by all who knew him for his altruistic nature and the many lives he touched.  No one left a Danny Burgess tennis event without a smile on their face.” - Jonathan Klee, USTA LI Regional Director

“Danny was passionate about providing an opportunity, and the experience of playing tennis, to those that would otherwise never have gotten a chance to hold a tennis racquet or hit a tennis ball in their lives!” - Mike Pavlides, Past Regional Director

“Danny Burgess was a personal friend with whom I shared a lot of common ground and thoughts. He would go above and beyond to grow the game of tennis and make it enjoyable. Danny touched the lives of thousands and he will be missed. May his sunset never go down below the horizon of life.” - Herb Harris, Grant Committee, Community Development Liaison

He “was a warm and caring person who truly inspired others to embrace volunteerism in the tennis industry. He was instrumental in my getting involved and joining the USTA Long Island Regional Council. He will be greatly missed.” - Hilary Bressler, Events Planner, Awards Dinner Committee

Daniel was so “helpful in making the renovation of the tennis courts at the Northport Veterans Administration facility a reality. He helped to negotiate the funds… I loved his tagline on his voice mail, ‘keep the last ball in play.’  These are words we can all live by and exemplify the miracle of Danny.” - Craig Fligstein, Veterans and Community Service Liaison

“I first met Danny at the Freeport Indoor Tennis Club. He certified me with the USPTA as a tennis teaching professional in the late 1990s. His knowledge of the sport, training methods and genuine passion for teaching the sport of tennis was second to none. There is a void in the local tennis community that will be difficult to fill. He will be missed by all.” - Chris Colesanti, Adult League Committee

“Danny was a giver and a doer. He truly cared about sharing his passion for tennis and making a positive impact in the lives of others. I had the opportunity to work collaboratively with him on many community events while I was the USTA Eastern Metro Region President and he was the Long Island Region President and I will truly miss his kind spirit and giant smile.” -  Jackie Clark, Council Member

“When I joined USTA Eastern four years ago, Danny was one of the first to welcome me and was always available to help me with whatever I needed.  His passion for people and for tennis will always be an inspiration for me.” - Neil Thakur, USTA Eastern Tennis Service Representative, Long Island

“Daniel touched so many lives with his love of the game and in getting so many on the court. He was a gentleman who gave from his heart and will be so missed.” - Kathy Miller, Adult League Coordinator

In 2016, the USTA Long Island Executive Board helped dedicate the refurbished courts at the Northport VA Hospital. From left, Daniel Burgess (then USTA LI president), Craig Fligstein, Mark McIntyre (then president of USTA Eastern), Sunny Fishkind and Mike Pavlides



Daniel’s non-profit Learning Institute of Tennis, Life Skills and Sportsmanship held summer tennis camp for Freeport-area children for many years. Here, he is pictured this past summer with his grandson, Mason Burgess


Daniel presents the Special Service Award to then-Legislator Laura Curran (now Nassau County Executive) at the USTA Long Island Region Awards Dinner in 2016


Daniel always loved giving tennis lessons at community events like the Bellmore Street Fair


Summer kids’ days were a highlight of Daniel’s USTA volunteer work. He is shown here with volunteer Jay Fagin


USTA board members modeling “I Love LI Tennis T-shirts” at a fundraiser for U.S. veterans. From left, Jacki Binder, Daniel and Marian Morris

Still Time to Make Nominations for USTA Eastern’s Annual Awards

Each year, USTA Eastern honors those who have made remarkable contributions toward growing and promoting tennis at the grassroots level. In the past, recipients were recognized in January during a special dinner at the Eastern Tennis Conference. Although 2020 has not been a typical year by any stretch, USTA Eastern still plans to honor the amazing achievements of those within its community. These individuals and organizations will be celebrated at a date and in a format TBD.

The nomination form is available at usta.com/EasternAwards. Individuals and organizations may be nominated for one of more than 20 awards, including Tennis Woman of the Year, Tennis Man of the Year, Tennis Family of the Year and Member Organization of the Year. All members of USTA Eastern's tennis community are encouraged to submit nominations. Those making nominations are asked to provide some brief biographical information on the person or organization being nominated and a short explanation outlining why the nominee deserves to be recognized. This information is very important to the selection process and will only take a few minutes to complete.

High School Tennis Season Ahead

The 2020-21 high school sports seasons, which were shortened and postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, have been scheduled for the spring of 2021. The current dates are as follows:

►Suffolk County will play three condensed sports seasons, with girls’ tennis taking place from March 1-May 1 and boys’ tennis from April 26-June 19.

►Nassau County also will play three shortened seasons. Girls’ tennis will take place from March 1-April 21 and the boys’ tennis season will play from April 22-June 14. The boys’ season may be extended if Regents exams do not take place.

USTA Eastern Long Island Regional Council

Executive Committee

►Jonathan Klee, Regional Director

►Michael Pavlides, Past Regional Director

►Sunny Fishkind, Vice Regional Director

►Randi Wilkins, Secretary