At Tennis Express, we had the exclusive privilege of meeting with retired tennis pro, Nduka “The Duke” Odizor today. Since his time at Wimbledon and many other professional competitions, Duke has been building his nonprofit organization named “DOIT.” DOIT stands for Duke Odizor International Tennis Foundation. Established in 2004, the foundation has collected and administered a variety of tennis items to the underprivileged children of Nigeria. Tennis racquets, tennis shoes, tennis apparel, and other used tennis gear are among the donated items. Additionally, his foundation aims at providing opportunities and experiences in tennis and beyond. While many of the recipients might not look to pursue tennis professionally, Duke’s organization has helped accommodate other career and educational opportunities. Some of these opportunities include trade programs such as automobile mechanics, A/C installers, plumbers, and more.
The main goal of this program is to get children off the streets and help them to grow and better their lives. Many of us have wonderful experiences with tennis and desire to share the sport with those we love. Tennis can teach us and our children skills and discipline that can be used in other areas of their life. For this reason, our team at Tennis Express enjoys working with foundations and individuals like Duke Odizor who aim to give back to their communities.
About Duke Odizor
Duke was born in Lagos, Nigeria. He says his first tennis racquet was one carved from a wooden table. From there he began playing on the courts of Nigeria until he was adopted and brought to the U.S. to live in West Houston. He went to private school before attending college at the University of Houston, where he joined the university’s tennis hall of fame. From there he grew his tennis career and has played at Wimbledon, the Australian Open, the French Open, the U.S. Open, and many other category-one events. At one point, he owned his own tennis club. However, because he enjoys playing on the courts more than running them, he returned to the game. Today, he teaches tennis to children and said he strives to help them become better people.
His inspiration for starting this program was to get more Nigerian children into tennis and grow within the sport. However, many children have found success, not just in tennis but in other areas of their lives through his program. A piece of advice from him: people won’t believe in one’s success when one’s starting out. It becomes easier to collaborate once one is established.
The Children He’s Helped
Many of the children, even after receiving a pair of tennis shoes, choose to go barefoot and carry their shoes. Duke admits that in some cases, it’s the only pair they have and they just want them to last. Often, they save their shoes to play tennis and to attend church. Some of the most successful students of the program have attended college in Nigeria. One is a thriving electrical engineer, another is an IT professional, and another one went on to pursue catering. Although many of them don’t become professionals in tennis, the program changes their lives for the better.
Since Duke is from Nigeria, he chooses to personally deliver the equipment. While he is there, he feeds the children once a day and provides them each with $2 that assist them with transport for the next week. Duke has also mentioned that while getting hundreds of children into the program would be great, helping just 20-30 children and inspiring others to help assist those in need is more than enough.
Tennis Express and Duke Odizor
Duke Odizor and Brad Blume, the owner of Tennis Express, go way back. Tennis Express donates tennis racquets and other tennis gear to the Duke Odizor International Tennis Foundation and Duke told us that he will drive miles just to visit our store. To us, tennis is more than just a sport, it is an opportunity to give back. We aim to do just that through our partnerships with different organizations!
If you would like to make donations or become a part of our recycling program by emailing us at [email protected] or you can reach out to us to find out how you can donate to the DOIT Foundation. We would love to hear from you!
That’s it for the Tennis Express Ultimate Tennis Gift Guide for 2020. For all of the newest tennis gear and tennis apparel, visit us at tennisexpress.com.