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Ron Wood

Ron Wood graduated from Rapid City High School before it had a tennis team. After a three-year stint with the Mitchell Daily Republic during his college years at Dakota Wesleyan, Ron returned West to write for the Rapid City Daily Journalís sports department.

When he and a small cadre of friends "took up" tennis in the early 1960ís, Rapid had four usable courtsóone that was considered adequate with only one volleyball-sized hole! It was during those days when facilities were raw, equipment scarce, and players few that Ron dubbed the area a "tennis desert."

Almost coincidentally, some youngsters got interested and a high school team was started. Ron covered everything they did, and that early exposure was certainly part of the impetus of growing the game in a dry land.

"I think his publicity was a major factor in getting some pretty fair tennis players started in Rapid City," says Steve Waltman, now a local physician and one of those pretty fair players.

With increased community awareness came a thirst for more participation, activities and better facilities, and a working organization grew. Ron took part in every type of local competition. It wasnít unusual for him to play an event and cover it on his own time with stories and pictures.

He lent support for obtaining a new complex and served in the Black Hills Tennis Association. During his term as president, the Black Hills Open was established and remains a favorite tournament.

Ronís journalistic accomplishments are well chronicled. He has been named South Dakota Sportswriter of the Year four times. He received the South Dakota High School Activities Associationís Distinguished Service Award and is a member of the Rapid City Sports Hall of Fame. His 40 years with one sports department is the longest such tenure in state history.

But it is for his efforts to high-profile "our sport" that we recognize him with the 2000 South Dakota Achievement Award.

Is Rapid City a tennis mecca today? No. But with Ron Woodís journalistic sustaining "showers," it has blossomed into an oasis.