By Dick Hahn
Community…the word that describes what is
best about tennis in Brandon, SD. And when you think Brandon
Tennis, the name Becky Blue surely surfaces first.
The Brandon Tennis Association (BTA) was
formed in 2006. Becky Blue has been its President, leader and
driving force from the beginning.
introduction to tennis was a curious one. She graduated from
Hurley, SD High School but her only recall of tennis in those
days was a single town tennis court across the street from her
grandmother's house. Little did she know that her passion for
the sport would start on her own concrete driveway of all
things, when her oldest son Ian was about ten years old and took
a liking to the game. The Blue driveway in the Brandon area was
long enough, so Becky realized she could improvise with a few
"tennis lines." Before long neighbor kids took an interest and
a few college kids came out to offer some instruction.
The BTA has won many awards along the way
2007 Northern Section Organization Member of the
2008 Brandon Business of the Year (from the
Chamber of Commerce)
2008 Community Tennis Association of the Year for
the entire USTA. BTA was recognized for this award on the big
screen at Arthur Ashe Stadium during the 2009 US Open.
A new facility was completed in 2008 that
includes eight courts and an equipment/concession building. The
fundraising was a community effort between the BTA, the schools,
the Chamber of Commerce, the City and the USTA.
The BTA has an active program with 150
local kids in summer lessons. The teachers are current or
former Brandon High School players. This is a way of the older
players giving back and helping the next generation of younger
players. They also host the Brandon Junior Open each July. The
tourney draws approximately 100 junior players from the region.
The Junior Team Tennis Area Playoffs are held in Brandon, and
when the South Dakota High School State Championships are held
in the eastern side of the state, Brandon serves as a host
site. Local volunteers make these and other events happen.
Photo: Brandon Valley
A number of fun events are held in Brandon
each summer including mixers scheduled around the major
tournaments and fun themed events. One of the favorites is the
“Big Apple Open” held during the US Open. The winners get a
homemade apple pie baked earlier that day by Becky.
Becky and husband Dr. Dan Blue both finished at Augustana
College in 1981. She was a graduate registered nurse, while Dan
was off to medical school at the University of SD.
Now married 35 years, she and Dan have a lot to be proud of as
parents. Ian is now 28, a software applications developer
(married to Paige, in the music industry) and lives in
Nashville, TN. Julia (24) is a medical student at Des Moines
University and and Elliot (22) starts medical school at USD in
Mason (17) will be a senior at Brandon Valley High School and
played #2 singles and #1 doubles for the Lynx. His siblings are
all past Brandon Valley tennis players, and then Augustana
Tennis "court" in Blue driveway. Becky's children
Mason (3rd from left), Julia (3rd from right), Elliot (2nd from
former Brandon Valley tennis coach Mark Schlekeway with planting
the idea of a CTA (Community Tennis Association) for the Brandon
community. With friend Tracie Rohlf and others, the rest is
history as the future of Brandon tennis had officially begun.
2011 Brandon Open Volunteers Tracie Rohlf, Chris Dummermuth,
Mark Schlekeway, Christine Nickels, Becky Blue, Lisa Peterson
Becky’s efforts were recognized on the regional level, as she
was honored with the USTA Northern Wolfenson/Ratner Community
Service Award for her outstanding fieldwork in recreational
Becky is quick to point out that the
success of tennis in Brandon is due to a group effort. While
that is true, every successful group needs a good leader. Becky
is that person. Her vision, commitment and good nature have
made Brandon tennis what it is today…a wonderful tennis