Brandeis Alumni, Family and Friends

Cordish Tennis Center Dedicated at Homecoming 2019

October 17, 2019

  • From left to right, President Ron Liebowitz, Jon Cordish, Melissa Fishman Cordish, Lauren Haynie, and Director of Athletics stand in front of the new Brandeis Cordish Tennis Center tennis scoreboard
    President Ron Liebowitz, Jon Cordish '90, Melissa Fishman Cordish '90 and Lauren Haynie, director of athletics
  • Melissa (left) and Jonathan Cordish (center) cut the ribbon at the dedication of the Cordish Tennis Center as President Ronald Liebowitz looks on. 
    Melissa Fishman Cordish ’90 (left) and Jonathan Cordish ’90 (center) cut the ribbon at the dedication of the Cordish Tennis Center as President Ronald Liebowitz looks on.
  • Jonathan Cordish poses with students at Cordish Tennis Center dedication
    Jonathan Cordish '90 poses with students at the Cordish Tennis Center dedication

The striking new Cordish Tennis Center dedicated on campus this fall was inspired by a bad bounce.

Two years ago, Jonathan Cordish ’90, who had been the No. 2 singles and doubles player on the 1989 Brandeis men’s team that went to the NCAA tournament, was competing in an alumni match on the old outdoor courts.

A fast serve to Cordish hit a crack and caromed unpredictably, causing him to mis-hit his return.

“That bounce is going to cost me a lot of money,” Cordish, an executive in his family’s Baltimore real-estate development company, remarked to then-Men’s Tennis Coach Ben Lamanna.

Brandeis President Ronald Liebowitz recalled the story with a smile at the Oct. 5 dedication of the Cordish Tennis Center during Homecoming weekend.

A leadership gift from Cordish and his wife, Melissa (Fishman) ’90, named the new facility that is seen as a boon for Brandeis Tennis, which for the first time this year has had both men’s and women’s teams in the Top 10 in the NCAA Div. III rankings.

Jon Cordish made the ceremonial first serve on the courts.

“Jon and Melissa have been committed to ensuring excellent facilities for the tennis program,” Liebowitz said.

He credited an earlier gift from the Cordishes in 2016 to refurbish the indoor courts in the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center with contributing to Brandeis Tennis’ current success.

He added the Cordishes’ recent gift toward the new outdoor tennis center inspired alumni and friends to step forward to fund the new state-of-the-art scoreboard that tracks matches on all six courts.

The new courts already are making an impression, said Pauri Pandian, head coach of the men’s and women’s tennis teams.

“Even in just the last few weeks, we have had a number of highly-ranked recruits who have been on our campus looking wide-eyed at this facility and all the opportunities it presents,” Pandian said.

“It’s difficult to describe how truly impactful this facility is,” the coach said.

“For every recruit we bring on to this campus, they’ll get to imagine themselves competing in Brandeis blue on these brand new courts.

“For every player on the team, they get to take pride in their home facility when we host other universities. For all of the members of the Brandeis tennis family, these courts will be a beautiful meeting ground to watch matches, compete in alumni events and connect with current and past Brandeis tennis players.”

He told alumni and friends gathered for the dedication: “Every day we will compete in a way that makes you proud, and I know that someday soon, we’ll be bringing an NCAA trophy back here to the Cordish Tennis Center.”

As a player on the 1989 team, Jon Cordish paired with teammate Mike Gratz ’91 to win the match that clinched the University Athletic Association title and propelled Brandeis to the NCAA Div. III tournament, a first for a New England team, noted Athletic Director Lauren Haynie.

“I believe the tennis teams are poised to challenge for future championships in the UAA, competing at the highest levels of Div. III,” Haynie said.

Cordish today is principal, vice president and director of finance for The Cordish Companies of Baltimore, which are involved in real estate, casino and hotel development.

Before joining his wife to cut the ribbon on the new courts, he addressed remarks to the current members of Brandeis’ men’s and women’s tennis teams.

“The truth is, it’s not great facilities, or great coaches, that make for great teams,” Cordish said.

“Ask any of the alumni that came back here today what made playing here at Brandeis special for them. I will guarantee you every one of them will tell you, what mattered the most were their teammates.

“We all found here playing at Brandeis a specialness built one day at a time, one practice at a time, shoulder to shoulder with teammates.

“That’s my challenge to you today, “ he said. “You guys need to make these courts great. Every time you step out here, step out with joy, with passion and with purpose. Make these courts a place you love to play.”