Brandeis Alumni, Family and Friends

Bad Bounce Leads to Excellent Outcome for Brandeis Tennis

April 3, 2019

By Matt Parillo

Two years ago, Ben Lamanna, head coach of the Brandeis men’s and women’s tennis teams, was watching Jonathan Cordish ’90 — who was nationally ranked throughout his Brandeis tennis career and helped the Judges advance to the NCAA Division III National Championships in 1989 — play in an alumni match on one of the university's outdoor courts.

A fast serve to Cordish hit a crack and caromed wildly, causing him to mishit his return. Cordish turned to Lamanna and said, “Ben, that bounce is going to cost me a lot of money.”

“I realized the tennis facilities had just not kept pace with the caliber of the program Ben had built,” Cordish says today. “Someone had to step up to ensure Brandeis had facilities that could sustain the teams’ accomplishments.”  

So Cordish and his wife, Melissa, also ’90, made a lead gift to establish the Cordish Tennis Center. The project will involve both a complete overhaul of the outdoor courts and the development of a new outdoor facility.

“To have a leading national program, you need great facilities, and this gift is going to transform ours,” says Lamanna. “We’re extremely grateful to Jon and Melissa.”

In 2016, the couple made the lead gift for a project that refurbished the indoor tennis courts at the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center. Lamanna credits that effort as being “instrumental in helping our team develop.”

Student-athletes on the tennis team expect the most recent gift to provide an immediate boost to the program. “It's going to transform the Brandeis tennis team and help us attract top recruits across the nation,” says Olivia Leavitt ’19, senior captain of the women’s program.

“Coach Lamanna and his players represent what’s best about Brandeis and its values,” says Cordish. “Ben’s goal is to develop young people who have both character and a work ethic — tennis is just the means to that end. Melissa and I are proud to help give Brandeis a first-class showcase for what he and these students do.”