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Dr. Wilson and Rose Asfora

Wilson and Rose Asfora don’t play tennis, but they have become a big part of the tennis scene in Sioux Falls in the past seven years.

Wilson, a neurosurgeon in Sioux Falls and his wife Rose were looking to help an athletic program in Sioux Falls in 2000. Dr. Asfora, a native of Brazil was a soccer player and so they considered helping the soccer program in Sioux Falls. Rose, who played tennis at Westward Ho Country Club, expressed the family’s desire to provide some sponsorship to Mignonne Schwebach, owner of Volin’s Racquet and Soccer.

After hearing of the needs of the tennis program, Rose convinced Wilson to help sponsor the South Dakota Junior and Adult Open tennis tournaments along with boosting the state’s Grand Prix tennis program.

The Asfora’s commitment wasn’t a timid gesture. They signed up in 2000 to fund for the next five years, the purchase of the logo tennis balls for the junior and adult South Dakota Open Tournaments along with t-shirts for the juniors and prize money for the adults.

Although that commitment has ended, the Asfora’s support has not. They have increased the prize money for the adult program and continue to fund the awards for the Grand Prix program.

The logo tennis balls for the tournament along with the awards, t-shirts, and prize money have enhanced the two open tournaments among the regional tennis community. While recently participation in tennis tournaments in the USTA Northern Section has slipped a little, it has not in Sioux Falls.

Besides enhancing the tournaments themselves, the money they have provided has allowed the Sioux Falls Tennis Association to underwrite less of those same tournaments. This has given the SFTA the opportunity to look beyond their previous anemic budgets.

The SFTA has been able to give back to youth tennis through the underwriting of the summer parks tennis lesson program. This program also covers underprivileged children who sign up. They have provided a picnic for the tournaments which again enhances the venue. The SFTA has even started a new tennis scholarship program for graduating seniors this year. In addition, the SFTA has enhanced the quality of the tournaments by being able to hire tennis officials and contribute to official chairs.

Mary Thompson, Executive Secretary of the SFTA, says the Asfora’s generosity plays a significant role in allowing the SFTA to enhance their programs and seek other sponsorships.

Their support of both youth and adult tournaments has become known regionally as the tournaments are more often referred to as the Asfora South Dakota Open. Rose designs the t-shirts each year for the junior tournaments and they can be seen in tournament play regionally. Rose’s creative talents are also behind the unique restaurant they have built in Sioux Falls, the Carnaval Brazilian Grill.

Schwebach says she is still surprised at the Asfora’s generosity. She says tennis in Sioux Falls and the state has gained much from the Asfora’s support. Support which she says even to this day she appreciates, although she isn’t sure how it all started.

Rose has discontinued playing due to health reasons, but their twins, eight-year old Wesley and Ellie are beginning to take up tennis.