Donald Dell

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Donald Dell
Donald Dell 2009-08-08.jpg
Donald Dell at the Legg Mason Tennis Tournament in August 2009
Full name Donald L. Dell
Country (sports) United States
Born (1938-06-17)June 17, 1938
Savannah, Georgia, United States
Height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Turned pro 1954 (amateur tour)
Retired 1969
Plays Right-handed (one-handed backhand)
Int. Tennis HoF 2009 (member page)
Career record 25–26
Highest ranking No. 5 (1961 U.S. ranking)[1]
Grand Slam Singles results
French Open 2R (1965)
Wimbledon 3R (1961)
US Open QF (1961)
Career record 4–11

Donald Dell (born June 17, 1938 in Savannah, Georgia, United States) is an attorney and was a professional tennis player, U.S. Davis Cup captain, and administrator. Dell was one of the first professional sports agents, having represented professional tennis players Arthur Ashe, Stan Smith, Jimmy Connors, and Ivan Lendl during pro tennis' golden age (1975 to 1985). He was also the founder of Professional Services (ProServ), one of the nation's first sports marketing firms established in 1970 with co-founder, Frank Craighill, a fellow law partner. His younger brother, Dick, worked for ProServ managing US Open champion Gabriela Sabatini, and played Number One Singles for the University of Michigan. He was Big Ten #1 Singles Champion in 1969.

Dell is considered one of the fathers of sports marketing and the sports agent business along with IMG's Mark McCormack. Based on his vast experience, Dell wrote a book in 2009 entitled: "Never Make the First Offer."

Dell was also very instrumental in establishing the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) in 1972 with Jack Kramer and Cliff Drysdale, according to Kramer in his book The Game: My 40 years in Tennis (1979). Clients of ProServ dominated the leadership roles of the ATP in its formative years. ProServ and one of its young agents, David Falk, would go on to represent professional basketball players such as: Patrick Ewing, John Lucas and Michael Jordan[2] selected Dell's ProServ and Falk as his first sports agent after leaving the University of North Carolina.[3]

ProServ was acquired in 1999 by SFX Sports Group, which later became a subsidiary of Clear Channel Entertainment.[4]

Playing career[edit]

Dell played his collegiate tennis at Yale University where he was a three-time All-American (in 1958, '59 and '60). He reached the NCAA singles finals in 1959 (falling to Whitney Reed of San Jose State University), and was a semifinalist in 1960.

He played on the United States Davis Cup team in 1961 and 1963 and was the captain of the winning Cup teams of 1968 and 1969.

He was a quarterfinalist at the U.S. National championships (now known as the U.S. Open), in 1961, and at the Cincinnati Masters he was a singles finalist in 1959 and a semifinalist in 1958.

In 1961, he and Mike Franks were the first Americans to play tennis in Russia.

Continued involvement with tennis[edit]

Dell received his undergraduate degree from Yale in 1960 and his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1964. He was an associate for the law firm of Hogan & Hartson from 1966 to 1967, was Special Assistant to Peace Corps founder Sargent Shriver from 1968 to 1969, and founded ProServ, Inc., (now known as SFX) in 1970 and served as its chairman until 1997. He was also a co-founder of the ATP players' union, and was co-founder with childhood friend, John A. Harris, Head of Potomac Ventures, of the Citi Open tennis tournament in Washington, D.C. in 1969.[5]

Dell is the Vice Chairman of the International Tennis Hall of Fame and a member of the board of directors for the Arthur Ashe Institute of Urban Health. Dell broadcast tennis for PBS and NBC television in the 1970s and '80s with Bud Collins and Barry MacKay, and makes appearances on the CBS local affiliate station, WUSA. His last interview was July 31, 2007 with Andrea Roane. He was the agent for Barry MacKay. who died on June 15, 2012.

Awards and honors[edit]

He was enshrined into the ITA College Tennis Hall of Fame in 1993. He was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2009.[6]


  1. ^ United States Lawn Tennis Association (1972). Official Encyclopedia of Tennis (First Edition), p. 414.
  2. ^ Michael Jordan, Inc: Corporate Sport, Media Culture, and Late Modern America - David L. Andrews - Google Books. Retrieved 2012-06-13. 
  3. ^ Published September 5, 1997. "WALL STREET JOURNAL EXAMINES THE STORY OF PROSERV - SportsBusiness Daily | SportsBusiness Journal | SportsBusiness Daily Global". SportsBusiness Daily. Retrieved 2012-06-13. 
  4. ^ L. Jon Wertheim (2001-11-05). "SFX Sports was supposed to be the ultimate in players' - 11.05.01 - SI Vault". Archived from the original on 2012-12-03. Retrieved 2012-06-13. 
  5. ^ Citi Open Official Page
  6. ^ Seles Leads the '09 Hall of Fame Class, January 15, 2009

External links[edit]