SD Tennis Achievement Award 2021
Dr Mike and Judy Rost Family
By Terry Nielsen
The SD Tennis
Achievement Award was started in 1997 to recognize tennis
achievements by families, individuals, tennis teams or tennis
communities. Its purpose is to inspire future growth of tennis
by looking back in state tennis history, honoring distinguished
levels of contributions that impacted the sport in SD.
The Mike and
Judy Rost family had a profound effect on the sport during
the 1970’s into the 1980’s. And the story goes way beyond
tennis championships too numerous to count.
It all started
when Judy Flynn from Sioux Falls Cathedral High School (1957
grad) met and later married Washington High School grad (1956)
Mike Rost as they were graduating from college (Judy at South
Dakota and Mike at Augustana). In order, to this remarkable
couple were born: Michael Jr, Patrick, Nancy, Stephen,
Alexandra and Matthew.
University of Minnesota medical school graduate who spent a
lifetime as medical director of anesthesia and operative
services at McKennan Hospital, was first in the family to get a
thirst for tennis. He excelled at Washington High, winning
three state high school doubles titles, two with John Simko and
one with Chuck Bailin.
Judy was an hour
south of Mike during college, getting her degree in speech
pathology. Once married, the medical school journey took them
to USD then MN medical school then Los Angeles County University
of Southern California Medical Center for residency in
anesthesia. Judy said when they moved back to Sioux Falls in
1970 and lived in the white duplex across from McKennan Park,
the tennis torch really lit up.
In addition to
the kids jumping into tennis, Mike served on the board of
directors of the former Northwestern Tennis Association, USTA.
Judy helped spearhead the Sioux Falls Tennis Association in
joining with the city of Sioux Falls to rebuild the courts at
McKennan Park. She led a team of volunteers (1981-82) to raise
funds from over 200 families and individuals to provide lighting
for the newly rebuilt courts. Judy said the resurgence of the
Sioux Falls Tennis Association and the gifts by so many is still
being felt today in the Sioux Falls tennis community.
Judy played her
own game of tennis then took a break in the early 1990’s to
return to USD for her law degree (while in her early 50’s, where
“I was older than some of my professors”, smiled Judy.)
The youngest of
the family, Matt, became a championship golfer while the others
reached the top in tennis around the Midwest. In Dr. Mike’s
obituary (he died in 2008 from esophageal cancer at age 70), it
reads that the Rost kids accounted for over 20 state high school
titles in tennis, football and golf.
Pat lives in San
Diego and is still a top player in his age group, and was
inducted into the SD Tennis Hall of Fame in 2013. Nancy (now of
Spicer, MN) won five prep singles titles at OG and starred at
Minnesota in the Big Ten, and was a 2008 SD Tennis Hall of Fame
inductee. Mike Jr. and Steve helped lead their tennis teams to
state titles at OG while daughter Alex won a state doubles
title at SF Lincoln. Except for Nancy and Pat, the others live
in Sioux Falls, along with mother Judy.
deepening the tennis history of the family, when Dr. Mike’s
mother was a widow later in life, she married Horace Barton, a
1999 SD Tennis Hall of Famer and past Big Ten tennis champion
from the University of Michigan (1920’s).
coached most of the kids at O’Gorman, and former Sioux Falls
tennis professional Randy Stolpe worked year round with the Rost
kids, often traveling with Pat and Nancy over a three year
period to national tournaments.
Both Barnes and
Stolpe agreed that Mike and Judy were outstanding tennis
“Mike and Judy
were always behind the kids in the most confidence inspiring
way,” said Randy. “In the mid 1970’s, no family at that time was
truly involved in the game of tennis like the Rosts. Watching
the kids evolve into college and beyond was not only enjoyable
but fun as they truly enjoyed the game, which was a tribute to
both Mike and Judy!”
“Other than financially, Mike and Judy were totally hands off.
I used to take Pat. Nancy and Steve to some national tournaments
and the parents stayed home. Old school parents for sure, let
coaches coach and pros teach.”
When Dr. Rost
died in 2008, the entire Sioux Falls community was touched in so
many different ways. His leadership in the medical field, his
service on the SD Board of Regents and on the Board of the
Charities and Corrections for the state of SD was felt for
years. As big boosters of SF O’Gorman, Mike and Judy inspired
much giving to the school. Mike is remembered for being one of
the original leaders in creating the Dakota Bowl football game,
a major fundraiser for OG. Also, Mike was instrumental in
bringing the legendary Bob Burns out of retirement to return to
coach football at OG. The rest is history!!