For 2017 SD Tennis Hall of Fame inductee
Duke Paluch, naming a tennis highlight of his life is not an
easy task. For tennis and family has been his entire life!
As one of seven tennis playing children of
Joe and Minnie Paluch, Duke took hold of his game in junior high
and by age 15 was one of the top players in the Northwestern
Tennis Association. Since then, he’s won a SD state prep title,
been an all-American player at tennis rich Gustavus Adolphus,
won numerous state titles in Colorado and spent 30 wonderful
years as a teaching professional/manager of what is now called
the Rocky Mountain Tennis Center in Boulder, CO.
Married for 31 years to his Rapid City
Central high school sweetheart Marty (with sons Matthew and
Thomas), Duke recalls all the travels across SD as a youngster,
hitting tournaments in Brookings, Aberdeen, Pierre and Sioux
Falls. He was a finalist to Pat Rost of Sioux Falls O’Gorman in
1978, then beat Mark Sweetman of Abereen Roncalli for the 1979
state high school title. An all-round athlete, he also helped
lead Rapid City Central to the state basketball title in 1980.
And he liked that the tennis courts at his high school had a
trout stream separating the two….he loves trout fishing. “Plus,
I always had a sibling (in order, Daryl, Dolly, Dixie, Donna,
Duke, Darcy and Dayna) to hit balls with, and had many great
memories of those who provided housing to the junior players of
While playing collegiately, Duke won the SD
Adult Closed in 1984, defeating brother Daryl Paluch and Marty
Johnson for the title, then teamed with Daryl for the doubles
championship. Daryl recalls once when the two college age
players headed to the CC Lee in Aberdeen in hopes of winning
some travel money playing doubles.
“Duke and I were really tired the night we
left Rapid for the tournament, so we slept in his Ford Pinto
while a friend of ours drove. We told him to just keep going
straight ahead. Well, we woke up later that night in North
Dakota. By the time we made it back to Aberdeen we were
defaulted in doubles. We often laugh about how “rich” we’d
have been had we not been defaulted!”
Playing for Hall of Fame coach Steve
Wilkinson (most wins in NCAA history), Duke was a two time All
American at Gustavus, and was named to its Hall of Fame in
“With the health and social benefits of
tennis, I really enjoy sharing the sport with others,” said
Duke. In CO, he has held these positions: summer assistant pro,
head pro, director of tennis and club manager to business
owner. He co-founded Rocky Mountain Tennis Center in 2007 and
served as Nike Tennis Camp Director for 8 years. He coaches the
boy’s tennis team at Monarch High School.
His certifications include: 30 years USPTA
and 6 years USPTR, Master of Tennis-Performance, PTR. He was
named Manager of the Year-USPTA Intermountain 2015, and was the
2017 Colorado Tennis Bud Robineau Award winner for community
“Service to the community comes in the form
of promoting the game of tennis in all areas possible through
tournaments, high school coaching, charity events, school
programs and league play,” said Duke. “Over the years, much of
our success is due to amazing business partners and staff. My
thanks to RMTC co-founders Kendall and Donna Chitambar, and to
Sylvia Henderson, our league and operations director for the
club for the past 15 years,” said Duke.
Daryl, who was inducted into the SD Tennis
Hall of Fame in 2009, is VERY proud of his younger brother.
“Duke is an outstanding player who has always had a strong work
ethic and commitment to sportsmanship.” Duke is representative
of his entire family, as the Joe and Minnie Paluch family
received the 2004 SD Tennis Achievement Award.