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Dick Hahn

                                                              By Jeff Nelson


A late starter by today’s standards, Dick Hahn began his love affair with tennis at age 15 in the Sioux Falls Park and Recreation program.  Playing under the tutelage of Chris Dummermuth, Don Grebin and Ron Selkirk, he honed his skills and earned a spot on the Washington High School varsity team.  By 1976, his senior year, Hahn worked his way up to Flight 3 Singles, where he was a finalist in the SD State High School Championship. 

It only took two more years and Hahn was challenging the best players in the state. He reached the finals of the South Dakota Closed five straight years, winning titles in 1980 and 1981.  During that stretch of time, he added numerous titles in the Black Hills Open, Corn Palace Open and Lewis and Clark Open, winning both the singles and doubles with partner Kevin Grebin.

Hahn started college at Augustana and won the North Central Conference #1 singles championship.  He graduated later with a degree in business management from Buena Vista University.

A disciplined, savvy competitor, Hahn combined heavy topspin ground strokes, well- placed volleys, and a nasty, lefty American Twist serve to keep his opponents off balance and out of sync.  His complete, all-court game led to over thirty more titles in the next two decades, during which years he teamed up with Carol Stewart, Leslie Bosch, and Jeff Nelson in doubles.

Hahn’s passion for the game led him to pursue a career as a Teaching Professional and coach.  He graduated from Vic Braden’s United States Tennis Academy in 1981 and taught at Westward Ho Country Club and Woodlake Athletic Club until 1984, the year he also coached at O’Gorman High School.

When the Lodge at Okoboji added two indoor courts and a full-time pro position in 1985, Hahn seized a unique opportunity to start a comprehensive tennis program in the Iowa Great Lakes community.  Emphasizing fun and lifetime fitness, Hahn took the USTA’s push to “Grow the Game” to heart and inspired a local tennis boom during his 15 years in Okoboji.

Hahn wrote a regular tennis column for the local newspaper, the “Okobojian” and hosted 80 episodes of “Play Tennis America with Dick Hahn” for a cable television station. For his work, he was named Wilson Advisory Staff Member of the Year in 1996.

In the adult arena, Hahn introduced over a hundred  new players to the game, and the University of Okoboji World Tennis Classic grew to one of the largest adult tournaments in the region.  Hahn also directed an annual pro-am fundraiser, “Tennis for Heart,” raising over $16,000 for the American Heart Association.

Junior tennis also flourished.  Hahn founded the University of Okoboji Junior Tennis Classic in 1988, helped Spirit Lake/Okoboji High School add a Varsity Tennis program, and developed a competitive junior club program that produced several highly ranked players, many of whom earned college tennis scholarships. 

Eventually, Hahn departed from full-time work as a tennis professional, but he never stopped giving back to the game he enjoyed so dearly.  Upon returning to his hometown of Sioux Falls, he quickly volunteered to help promote local play. Remembering how the Volin and Clayton families inspired his interest in the sport and development as a player, Hahn remained steadfast in helping others appreciate the sport.  He served as President of the Sioux Falls Tennis Association, assisted with organizing Park and Recreation Adult Leagues, and returned to coaching for a two year stint in 2005 at Washington High School. In his second year, he was voted Greater Dakota Conference Girl’s Coach of the Year. 

After relocating to the edge of eastern Sioux Falls, it was the Brandon community that benefitted from Hahn’s love of tennis. He joined the Brandon Tennis Association Board and helped create new adult leagues and special events. He continues to teach beginner adult classes and coordinate the tennis clinics for the Legends youth sports program. Where he will end up next, nobody knows, but one thing is certain; wherever Dick goes, tennis grows.

The son of George and Ruth Hahn, Dick and brother George recall the memory of their father (who died when Dick was only nine years old), winning a city doubles title with  SD Tennis hall of Famer Horace Barton back in the early years of city tennis.  Ruth, who died at age 93, was often seen at McKennan Park cheering on son Dick, relishing in Dick’s success despite his rather late start in tennis.

Today, Dick and wife Jennifer,  married in 2011, reside in the Mystic Meadows area of Sioux Falls.   Dick and brother  George together run Hahn Real Estate, a full service real estate firm and a member of MLS.  Jennifer’s three children Alex (20), Lucy (17) and Anthony (13) keep the house hopping, and along with two dogs and a large lawn  pull Dick from tennis time.  But Dick loves the new busy change in his life!