Dave Magavern won the men’s 55 & Over singles title in the MUNY Tennis Championships with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over highly regarded Joe Pannullo in the finals this past July.
Magavern, who is in incredible shape and rarely misses a shot, lost very few games in all of his matches. He is the odds-on favorite to win the division for the next four years and perhaps longer. However, Magavern is magnanimous in his praise of his opponents.
“The scores aren’t really indicative of how hard many of my matches are. There are many points and deuce games that I am fortunate to win,” he said.
What makes Magavern’s accomplishments even more astounding is the fact that he doesn’t play tennis year-round. From November to April he runs five miles a day five or six times a week, rides his bike 10-30 miles at a time to supplement his running, and also plays soccer once a week. He claims that it takes him at least six to eight weeks to get his game into really top shape in the spring when he starts playing.
Magavern is one of the few players whose game is equally good on hard or clay courts.
He first started to play tennis at the age of eight; taking lessons from Roger Hauck, a star on Buffalo State’s tennis team. He then took lessons from John Titcomb, a tennis pro at Village Glen.
“I also took lessons from other pros and they all had one thing in common,” Magavern said. “Each had difficulty teaching me a really good serve.”
That isn’t necessarily true. Although his serve isn’t one of his strongest attributes he places well and it is hit deep into the corners.
Magavern played third singles at Nichols School his first three years and played second singles for Canisius High School his senior year. After high school he played sixth singles for the University of Vermont. That team played a good schedule against teams such as Dartmouth, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. It was while Magavern was in college that his game really improved. That constituted developing outstanding ground strokes, improving his passing shots, and being in great shape. He also won the 21 & Under City Championships during his last year in college.
As Magavern got older his game actually improved. His overhead, serve, and volley are all much better. Magavern is so frustrating to play because he has the uncanny knack for hitting shots that put his opponents out of position and running them from side to side.
Magavern’s mindset sets the tone for his matches.
“I try to get to every ball, especially the last one that has been hit,” he said.
He especially likes playing against net rushers as he readily passes them at will when they approach the net. What frustrates his opponents even more is when they hit with pace. He is a great counterpuncher and returns his opponents’ shots consistently.
As great as his physical skills are, his mental toughness is also remarkable.
“I feel that I am mentally tough on the court,” Magavern said. “To me, tennis is just a game. After each match I try to remember how I focused and played. If I had someone better than I was I still played my game. If it wasn’t good enough to win I know that at least I tried my hardest.”
One of the keys to Magavern’s success is his unusual two-handed backhand. Most players who use a two -hander have hands separated and close together. Magavern has his left hand practically sitting on top of his right hand.
“I saw a player using it in a tournament when I was younger and he had great success with the shot,” he said when asked where he developed that grip. “After getting used to the unorthodox grip I couldn’t believe the angles that I could hit with the shot.”
As for his summer play he plays 2-2ø hours of hard singles five times a week. He also does what he calls his “quick stretches” every night and claims that he never wakes up stiff or sore.
Magavern estimates that in the last 40 years he has been in at least 25 finals; winning at least half of them. The 40 years of continuous play without missing even one year is the longest of any present player who has played in the Buffalo MUNY Championships.
Magavern hopes to play another 30 years in the tournament. Who knows? With the shape he is in his goal could come to fruition.
Local team off to California
The Men’s 3.5 USTA tennis team won the local playoffs, the Regionals in Syracuse, and the Eastern Sectional State title in Albany. They defeated the New York City Metro Team, 3-2, in the state finals to advance to the Nationals in Indian Wells.”
They will be competing against teams from Hawaii, the Caribbean, Southern and Mid Atlantic States.
Gordy Sage is the captain and also a playing member of the team. Other team members are: Joe O’Connor, James Horne, Murray Richardson, Mark Szyusiak, George Lund, Paul Hutchenenreuter, Mike Urban, Jim Higgins, Dan Harvey and Mike Cole.