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David DeMuth

While David DeMuth's day job is CEO of Doner advertising agency and Doner Partners Network, he has a special passion for the sport of tennis.

“I really love tennis. I love the elegance and the grittiness. I still play about four times a week. I find it really cathartic. I think tennis players are the greatest athletes in the world,” he said.

His relationship with the sport extends to helping coach and advise professional tennis player Emina Bektas, who is currently ranked 150 in the world. “I'm her advisor and sometime coach, and I do train with her as time allows, and travel with her, both here and at our home in Miami,” DeMuth said.

That passion and love of tennis have combined into the creation of the inaugural Cranbrook Tennis Classic, a new stop on the ATP Challenger Tour on July 2-9, marking the first-time professional tennis will be played in the Detroit area in over 25 years.

The Cranbrook Tennis Class was DeMuth's brainchild after a brand new tennis complex was built at Cranbrook Schools. A member of the schools' Board of Governors and a parent of graduates, he said he brought Cranbrook both the idea and “some seed capital in the form of a donation” to help get the new tennis complex off the ground. Other families followed with donations. “It got built very quickly for Cranbrook, and it turned out very well. It's one of the best tennis facilities in the country.”

DeMuth said southeast Michigan has a very diverse tennis community, with the pandemic bringing people back to the popular sport.

Now the tennis complex, with a viewing platform above eight courts set amongst trees in a bucolic setting will host the newest professional tennis tournament in the country.

“I'm a builder of things – I'm fascinated with creating things,” DeMuth, a Bloomfield Hills resident, said. “Once the facility was built, I said this would be a fantastic place for a tennis tournament.”

Emboldened, he wrote both the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and USTA (US Tennis Association) and sent photos of the new tennis complex.

“My first note was summarily dismissed – but I don't give up easily,” DeMuth humbly noted.

Then, incredibly, about three and a half months ago, a spot opened up on the ATP calendar for a week in July of this year.

Players at the Cranbrook Players Classic are rated between 100 and 300 in the world; some on their way up, and some having already been on top. The tournament will be livestreamed across the world, and all profit generated from the tournament will be returned to Cranbrook as well as to the Palmer Park Tennis Academy, which helps at-risk youth develop educational and life skills as well as their tennis game. “My wife and I have supported Palmer Park Tennis Academy for a long time,” he said. Their personal foundation, Tennis Forward, was created to participate and support the endeavor.

In addition to being able to see tennis players coming in from around the world, there will be a variety of other activities during tournament week, including a kids' clinic.

“This is world-class tennis in an intimate and beautiful setting,” DeMuth said, noting that Cranbrook has been “unbelievably supportive.”

“My philosophy is two-fold: it's to bring tennis to the community, and to show off Cranbrook to the world.”

Story: Lisa Brody

Photo: Mackenzie O'Brien


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