Nancy Driggs Hougland
By Chris Dummermuth
Barbara Driggs was looking for summer
activity for her 12-year-old daughter Nancy, so she signed her
up for Park and Rec tennis lessons offered at the Lincoln High
School courts in Sioux Falls, just a few blocks from their
home. That’s all it took; the hook was set, and Nancy started
playing tournaments immediately.
While developing her skills, Nancy came in
contact with many local players: this writer, along with such
players as Randy Stolpe, Don Barnes, Larry and Mary Vickery.
Nancy is grateful for their encouragement and/or willingness to
play when she first got into the game. Early in her career,
Nancy represented South Dakota twice in the Seventeen Magazine
Tennis Tournament of Champions in Mission Viejo, CA.
Nancy played varsity flight one singles
for Chuck Wise’s Lincoln Patriots, and then went on to play
number one singles for the University of South Dakota (’78-‘79)
and South Dakota State University (’79-’82). Driggs won the
state college singles title in 1978 and 1979, and captured the
first women’s college conference title in 1982. During these
years, she taught tennis for the Sioux Falls Park and
Recreation, and coached Jr. Davis Cup in Sioux Falls.
One of Nancy’s signature phrases, “it’s
just tennis” morphed into so much more when Mike Hougland, an
accomplished player as well, introduced himself to Nancy at
McKennan Park. They played tennis the following day, and in
Nancy’s words, “That was all she wrote.” The Houglands will
celebrate their 30th anniversary this August.
Nancy won five doubles and three singles
titles at the SD Closed (1978, 1980 and 1982). She is a
three-time Fenn Cup champion at the South Dakota Open and was
doubles champion six times.
Her long-time partner Chris Dummermuth
remembers Nancy for something other than the
championships, “Nancy was also the BEST practice partner ever!
We would play for hours at McKennan or the old USF campus courts
and then have to turn around and play against each other in a
tournament draw, but it worked! I know we pushed each other to
In 1983, Nancy and husband Mike teamed up
to win the Family Equitable Mixed Doubles Title for the Northern
states. They won the region finals in Kansas City which
advanced them to a tournament played in conjunction with the US
The Houglands three sons; Adam, 27, Ross
(Emily) 25, and Luke, 18, were introduced to tennis very early
since Nancy continued to play competitively throughout her
pregnancies. Ross and Adam played high school tennis, and Ross
continued to play for two years at his father’s alma mater,
Emporia State University, before transferring to Kansas
University. Luke will be a freshman at KU this fall, so all
three boys have Jay Hawk history.
Mike’s job kept the family moving, and
Nancy claims that tennis helped her get connected with people
right away and presented job opportunities. Beyond South
Dakota, Nancy has worked with tennis in Virginia, Indiana,
Illinois, and Kansas.
Currently, Nancy is the Director of
Leagues at Midtown Athletic Club, a club with 1,400 members in
Overland Park, Kansas. She primarily works with women’s teams,
and recently received USTA recognition for getting new teams
One of Nancy’s Midtown colleagues,
Marichi Smith, praised Nancy’s ability to deal fairly with the
hundreds of league participants while avoiding the usual drama.
She added, “Her extensive knowledge of the game, especially
ladies tennis, is demonstrated by her ability to point out
simple adjustments that make our daily tennis lives easier.
Nancy is very intuitive…you feel like she really knows you and
Nancy loves helping others enjoy tennis,
and wants them to have the same great experiences with tennis
that she did. According to co-worker Smith, Nancy is
succeeding, “Through tennis, Nancy has many friends and helped
others find friendship and camaraderie through the game. She is
still competitive, and wants to see us all improve and exceed
our own expectations.”
Nancy still competes, but has recently
picked up, excuse the four-letter wordJ,