ELKHART — After getting a scare that led to heart surgery, Dave Whittaker says he's "done" as Elkhart Central's boys and girls tennis coach.
Beloved by multiple generations of middle school students, high school athletes and summer parks program tennis players, Whittaker underwent quadruple bypass and valve repair surgery Monday, March 24, in Elkhart, according to his wife, Debbi.
"I'm done (as a tennis coach). I have to be smart," Whittaker, said during a brief conversation Friday afternoon upon his first day back home.
He steps down at Central as the 42-year-old school's all-time varsity victory leader in any sport or combination of sports with 528.
Whittaker, 64, said he plans to continue as a teacher at West Side Middle School for one more year before retiring fully.
Matt Windy has taken over as interim girls tennis coach, according to Central. Longtime assistant Rik Wiskotoni is continuing in that role. The Blue Blazers are slated to play their season opener April 3 at home against NorthWood.
"He's doing wonderfully considering everything," Debbi Whittaker said about her husband of 42 years.
Debbi Whittaker said her husband suffered what has since been determined to be a mild heart attack about three weeks ago.
She said that despite her spouse experiencing fatigue and shortness of breath over the next couple weeks "he just wouldn't go to the doctor, because he just didn't want to miss school."
"I'm fortunate," said Dave Whittaker, still sounding weak after surgery.
Whittaker served as Blazer girls tennis coach for 26 years, compiling a 291-137 record with 12 sectional titles, eight regional crowns and one semistate championship in 1988.
On the boys side, he headed up the Central program for 22 years, going 237-152 with eight sectional titles and three regional crowns.
Whittaker's overall Blazer marks thus include 528-289 with 20 sectional titles and 11 regional crowns over 48 seasons.
He also coached the Elkhart Memorial boys for five years before moving over at Central, compiling a 33-47 record.
A 1968 graduate of Elkhart High who later served four years in the Air Force, Whittaker began teaching with Elkhart Community Schools in 1977. He became director of the city's summer tennis program that same year.