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
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
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
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