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Mike Trueblood Bio

When Rosie Trueblood took her 10-year-old brother Mike to McKennan Park in Sioux Falls (in about 1940) to hit tennis balls, a love affair with the net game started immediately. Summer lessons on the then clay courts followed, then came South Dakota High School singles and doubles championships and Big Ten tennis at the University of Iowa. And Mike’s been playing and teaching ever since.

So it’s fitting that Mike is being inducted in 1999 to the SD Tennis Hall of Fame—50 years after Mike resurrected the SD Open Tennis Tournament as meet director in 1949.

A resident of California since 1964, Mike and his wife Phyllis, son Mark and daughters Nora, Clare and Amy all have enjoyed years of tennis as a family.

Currently a member of Flint Canton Tennis Club in La Canada, CA, Mike is still a steady player and recently competed in the National Hardcourt Senior Father-Son tournament in Newport Beach, CA.

His early tennis instruction was at McKennan from the likes of Lefty Johnson and Jolly Carlson—then from his Iowa tennis coach, Don Klotz. He continued teaching tennis for fun in the Pasadena area when his children started the game and now tries for weekly lessons for his grandchildren.

"I got lucky during the WWII era—getting lessons and inspiration from a young Air Force soldier named Sam Match, who later on was nationally ranked," said Mike. "I also remember playing a lot at R.H. Weber’s court and was hired by the City to literally maintain the clay courts at McKennan."

"I can still remember the wonderful Coach Howard Wood coming to my house to deliver my Washington High letterman’s award after winning the state singles and doubles title (with Dan Posposel) in 1947. Then, it was a thrill to qualify for the National Junior Boys Tennis Championships at Kalamazoo, MI."

After graduating from Iowa (and returning later for a graduate degree in marketing), Mike served with the Air Force in the Korean War. While working in market research in Philadelphia, Mike said he applied for but got turned down for membership in the elite Merion Cricket Club. "There was some concern I might be a minority—an Indian from South Dakota. Actually, my heritage is English and Scotch," said Mike, who has spent much of his working years, though, working in multi-cultural marketing programs.

When Mike "re-started" the SD Open (last run in 1940), they offered men’s singles and doubles—with entry fees of $1.50 and $2.00 (a doubles team), respectively. Local businesses that stepped forward to sponsor the awards were: jewelry stores Bechtold’s, Smith, and Horwitz, and clothiers Weatherwax’s, Crawford’s and Roth’s.

McKennan was the host site with its three clay and three cement courts, and it was sponsored by the Northwestern Lawn Tennis Association. Lefty Johnson beat Mike (4-6, 6-2, 6-4) in the semi-finals of that tourney—and then beat Bob Herman, 7-5, 6-4 for the title. In an earlier round, Mike beat Wendell Ottum, who would return as a SD Open regular to win, starting in 1958—seven singles titles in the next 11 years.

In 1950, Mike won the SD Closed singles, then teamed with Lefty to win the Closed and SD Open doubles the same year.

That summer, while a college student, Mike helped organize the Sioux Falls Tennis Club to promote tennis and was elected president. Other officers and board members were Ozzie Ravn, Liz Miller, Don Grebin, R.H. Weber, Dean Belbas and Orva Fehrenz.

Mike is still active professionally as a marketing instructor at Cal State Fullerton and Loyola Marymount and has taught at USC and UCLA. He joined CROSSMARK Sales & Marketing Food Broker as marketing director in 1990 and this year started TruMARKETING (multi-cultural marketing) consulting company.