Northshore Tennis History
In September of 2018, Dan McCormick—who's currently serving his ninth summer as Tennis Director at the Eastern Yacht Club in Marblehead—will be joining Northshore Tennis on Swampscott Road in Salem to run the tennis program from September to April. Dan is replacing the retiring John Foley, a New England Tennis Hall of Famer and Swampscott resident. Foley had been Head Tennis Pro at NST since it opened 53 years ago. In recent years, the facilities at the club were renamed the John L. Foley Tennis Center in his honor.
Foley is a walking local tennis history book.
“From the start, what made this club different is that it was member-owned and non-profit,” John L. Foley
"Five years after the doors opened, the tennis boom took America by storm and new tennis facilities sprung up all over the North Shore."
Since then, many clubs have come and gone, but Foley thinks Northshore Tennis remains because there was a conscious effort to keep the operation small and manageable.
It has two indoor hard courts and two outdoor Har Tru (clay) courts.. “Most of our members know each other by name,” said Foley. “I taught many of them how to play the game. Then I taught their children and now even their grandchildren.”
Among his students in the 60’s were Major League Baseball sluggers, Tony and Billy Conigliaro.
The two brothers, who were Boston Red Sox teammates in 1969 and 1970, had agreed to appear on a TV show featuring professional athletes competing in a sport other than their specialty. When they found out they’d be playing tennis, the Conigliaro’s went to John Foley to learn how to swing a racquet instead of a bat.
The driving force behind the construction of the club was a Marblehead resident named Harold Zimman. “At the time we broke ground, Swampscott Road was still unpaved,” said Foley. “Many were skeptical about opening a tennis club on a dirt road.” But Zimman was undeterred. In the years since, the road has become a major connector between towns.
Zimman ran a company that published programs for sporting events and he had developed strong contacts in the tennis world. Between 1965 and 1967, he brought in top-ranked women’s professional tennis players like Billie Jean King and Rosie Casals to compete in tournaments in the Salem facility.
Enter Dan McCormick, who also coaches women's tennis at Salem State University, is a member of the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) and a Certified Elite Teaching Professional.
"I'm very excited about the opportunity to teach here. The club has a built a great tennis tradition over the years and I'm honored to be in a position to continue that," said McCormick.
Replacing a legend like John Foley will be a challenge, but McCormick is up to the task. "I've known John for many years. He's a big part of not only North Shore tennis, but New England tennis. Because of John and his name on the wall outside, this club has a great reputation. I'm looking to carry the tradition forward and continue the work that John began over 50 years ago."