Don DeBaun-Tournament Trainer on pickles, mustard packets and much more by Lizl Kotz
I would be willing to bet that Don Debaun is the first person returning players look for when they arrive to the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club for the hardcourt 40’s division national tournament. Don has been the tournament trainer for fifteen years now. Don started out his career as a medic in the Air Force. He has worked in the rehab department at Scripps Hospital, served as a movie set medic in movies such as The Titanic and a lifeguard covering the City of San Diego, Encinitas and LA County.
Don also covers the Senior Hardcourts in May and the prestigious Pacific Coast Doubles Championship which started one hundred and thirty years ago this February. His favorite is the Senior Hardcourts in May because he has the chance to care for senior players. “I am proud to say I have had 4 ninety-four year old players out on the courts”.
One glance into Don’s eyes reveals his incredibly caring nature. Singles player Amanda Parson’s says “Don literally keeps my body together during tournaments and encourages me to take care of my body in between matches”. There are days when Don has up to one hundred and twenty five players pass through his training room. I observed Don in in his training room for an hour and it is evident how proficient Don is at identifying a problem and coming up with a solution in a matter of minutes. His training room is like a triage center. There is the acute injury group, the chronic injury group and the group of players who simply want a nice person to talk to. Don is that guy and wears all of those hats.
He has had his own hardships in life. His wife was stabbed to death in the LAX Airport by an employee who was hired without a background check and left him to care for his nineteen month old twin boys. His son Derin died twenty six years later from kidney disease. Despite enduring much loss, Don spends his time helping people and has this incredible energy about him. When I asked him how he stays so positive he responds: “I have always enjoyed helping people. When I lay my hands on people to address their injuries, their energy is returned to me and fills me back up.” Marylynn Baker, the head referee for the 40’s Harcourt nationals comments that Don is a key component of the tournament and helps create the professional yet relaxed atmosphere we hope to welcome players with.
Don believes in pickles and mustard packets for cramps and have seen it work within minutes. “Only take one mustard packet though because two will make you throw up.” I also advise players who struggle with cramps to eat Lays potato chips and swallow it down with Gatorade between changeovers.