Hudson Mourns

Hudson SunHudson mourns Ed Krysa

Ed Krysa, the “pied piper” who mentored hundreds of youth in tennis at Riverside Park, died Feb. 1, 2011.

Ed Krysa is presented with a plaque by Hudson Recreation Dept. director Linda Ghiloni, at the dedication of six new tennis courts at Riverside Park in his honor in 2007. More than 100 friends, relatives, former students and their families attended the ceremonies and the reception which followed at Hudson Town Hall. Photo by Rosemary Rimkus

More than three decades ago, at Hudson’s Riverside Park, Ed Krysa sawed off part of a tennis racquet shaft and gave the rest of it to three-year-old Steve Flanigan.

Patiently and enthusiastically, Krysa began to teach the preschooler the basics of tennis.  Steve, along with his older brothers Dan and Joe, would eventually become powerhouses on the Hudson High School tennis team and contribute to several of the team’s many stellar seasons, including the 1980 state crown.

Edward P. Krysa, who died Feb. 1 in Washington at age 86, helped mentor many other young tennis players at Riverside Park, where he provided free lessons to hundreds of local children.  Around Hudson, grown tennis players who learned the basics of the game under his tutelage are mourning the passing of the man whom many called a “pied piper” because so many children followed him around.

“No matter what your talent level, he made you feel like the most important person,” recalled Dan Flanigan, now a 46-year-old coach for nationally ranked college tennis players.  “He touched a lot of lives.”

According to Hudson High School tennis coach Vic Rimkus, a longtime friend, Krysa helped feed his pipeline with teens who were seasoned players by the time they reached high school.  Krysa liked working with young players because they had no engrained bad habits, Rimkus said.

“When we first started the tennis program in the early 1970s, we figured that we’d have a lot of kids that had never played tennis before,” he said. “But because Ed was working with them we ended up in the state semi-finals the first year.  He gave us the best playground players in the state and a real start in the program.”

A career Army officer who was a Sergeant Major when he retired in 1966, Krysa served during World War II after graduating from Hudson High School in 1942. Krysa taught himself to play tennis while in the Army, and won several military and civilian tournaments. Rimkus said that Krysa would hone his new skill by playing colonels and generals.

He became a regular player at the Diamond Head Tennis Center on Waikiki Beach in Hawaii, the last place his was stationed.   And while he went home to Hudson after his 1966 retirement, he continued to teach in Hawaii in the winter months.

During the summer, Krysa, who never owned a car, would ride his bicycle every day to Riverside Park to teach local youth – and many adults as well.  In 2007, the town dedicated the Riverside Tennis Courts to him.  He was inducted into the Hudson High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001.

Dot Bonazzoli remembers how Krysa began working with her six-year-old daughter Suzanne, now 35. “He taught them respect,” she recalled. “If kids wanted to play it was a lot of fun, but they still had to pick up the balls after the practice.”

Eventually, as Suzanne became good enough to play at the high school and college level, Krysa began teaching Dot so that Suzanne would have a steady practice partner.

And Rimkus, who today wins many senior tennis tournaments, said Krysa helped him undo a few bad habits. “I didn’t know tennis until Ed came around,” Rimkus said. “I still use a lot of the things he taught me.”

Krysa, who had no children, is survived by his brother Stanley of Virginia, and 64 nieces and nephews and their children and grandchildren.