Don Barnes Bio
Don Barnes is a self-proclaimed
And for over 30 years of
involvement as a tennis coach, player, director,
organizer and promoter, Barnes is being inducted into
the 2001 South Dakota Tennis Hall of Fame.
Don and his wife Kate have lived
near McKennan Park tennis courts since they moved to
Sioux Falls in 1972. The entire Barnes family grew up in
tennis. Children Thad (28), Ann (26) and Ben (19) all
eventually played #1 for their O’Gorman High School
tennis team. And Kate learned the game well enough from
Don to play in the top women's leagues.
A Mitchell, SD native and son of
Don and Bernita Barnes, Don graduated from Mitchell
Notre Dame High School in 1962. There he excelled in
football, basketball and summer baseball. He then went
to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for 2-1/2 years
where he lettered as a catcher on the Husker baseball
team. After transferring to the University of South
Dakota, he played Coyote basketball for Coach Bob
Mulcahy and received his coaching certification and
Don’s first teaching/coaching
position was at Woonsocket, SD where he led the
basketball team to its first State "B" tournament
appearance in 39 years. He also ignited some tennis
enthusiasm and took a couple players to the state tennis
tourney–a first for Woonsocket.
Moving to Sioux Falls O’Gorman in
1972, he taught and coached boys’ basketball and boys’
and girls’ tennis until 1980. A highlight was coaching
the Knight girls’ team to five consecutive state team
During the summers ’73-’76 he was
the Sioux Falls city tennis director. He left teaching
at O’Gorman in 1980 to start a sales career (now in
financial services with PaineWebber). He jumped back
into part-time coaching for the love of the game, first
at Augustana College (1981-82), then back to O’Gorman in
1996 with the boys’ team (and now assisting wife Kate
with the OG girls’ team). "It’s a great chance to give
something back to a game I love," said Don.
A special thrill came during the
past school year when Kate’s OG girls’ team produced the
#1 state champion, Liz Donohue; and Don’s #1 player
Danny Peterson won the boys’ state title. To create more
community interest in watching prep tennis, the Barnes
started the "Dakota Cup, a tennis under the lights"
experience at McKennan’s courts with special promotions
for spectators. It features O’Gorman in a dual meet with
another local high school.
"I got intrigued with tennis while
at USD–watching Coyote players like Randy Peterson,"
said Don. "I learned my game by watching others and just
love all the aspects of the game–the athleticism and
competitiveness it requires to win."
"I tell my players each season,
for eight weeks all I ask is that you concentrate on
three things: your family, your school and full-time
O’Gorman tennis. I’m a tennis player who happens to be a
coach. I always play hard and ask my players to do the
same–regardless of their skill level."
Don said he’s gotten lots of
enjoyment watching "non-traditional" tennis players, who
happen to be terrific athletes, do well in prep tennis.
He said it’s hard to name them
all, but top players Don’s coached include Nancy, Steve
and Pat Rost, Michelle and Rick Volin, Larry Vickery,
Jim Sorrell, Bill Townsend, Karen Wakey, Barb Verville,
Susie Walsh and Sheila Hagen. Also, through summer park
tennis–he enjoyed working with Karen Bernard and Mike
Hoeger, who grew to be champions.
He’s organized and directed many
tournaments, including starting the Corn Palace Open in
Mitchell–now one of the top tourneys in the area. In the
1980s, his racquet stringing that started in his garage,
grew to a venture with Kate to be a retail tennis shop
on the side for a couple years. He also conducted
various traveling tennis clinics and still is one of the
area’s top doubles players.
"Whether I’ve headed to the courts
to play or coach, I owe a lot to Kate for always
supporting my tennis endeavors," said Don.