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Sherwood Hatch Bio

When Sherwood Hatch was first introduced to tennis in the mid-1960’s by future sister-in-law Joan Griffin, it was beyond his wildest dreams that he’d someday receive tennis honors. But after some 30 years of tennis–playing, teaching, coaching, running tournaments and special events–Hatch is being inducted into the 2002 SD Tennis Hall of Fame as a coach and contributor.

The longtime math teacher and coach jumped headfirst into tennis when he married Ginny Griffin and they moved back to the Brookings area for graduate school at South Dakota State in the late 1960’s. Born in Wakonda, SD in 1942, he holds two degrees from SDSU.

"Our kids, Ripper and Amy, saw a lot of tennis from their strollers when we played on the old State courts with so many Brookings friends," said Hatch. One of those was Brookings High athletic director Jim Holwerda, who in 1978 had an opening for a combination math teacher, football coach and tennis coach. Hatch filled the bill in all three categories and a longtime marriage was started with sports.

"It was not easy giving up my position at Sioux Valley (Volga) because we’d just won the conference football title and had good talent coming back," said Hatch, "but I’ve been very blessed to be in such a great tennis community as Brookings with such a fine facility as the Hillcrest courts."

Hatch’s tennis involvement is extensive: Brookings High boys’ coach since 1978 and girls’ coach from 1993-2000 (named State and Regional Coach of the Year in 1985), six years as a board member of the Northern Tennis Section and four years on the Sectional junior tennis council, Brookings city tennis director since 1993, certified USTA umpire, and SD Jr. and Adult Closed tennis tournament director since 1990 (after assisting since 1970).

Influenced by Ginny and Sherwood, Ripper and Amy certainly left their mark on SD prep tennis as two of the best ever. Ripper won three state singles and two doubles titles for the Bobcats while Amy matched her brother with three state singles championships and five doubles titles–all at the #1 position. The family’s mark on SD and the entire Northern section was recognized in 1991 as the Sectional Tennis Family of the Year.

Hatch’s top tennis memories include: his boys’ 1980 team that swept the ESD conference–ALL singles and doubles events, outstanding play of Ripper and doubles partners Jimmy Kayongo and Nate Thompson, and watching as a parent (not the coach then) when Amy’s prep team won ALL the events but one at the state meet. He traveled thousands of miles with Ripper and Amy to state, regional and national tennis events (both earned national rankings in their age divisions).

"Also, you can’t beat the thrill of just seeing a student try out for the team and improve to their maximum potential," said Hatch. "I remember Natalie Roe, as an example, who as a seventh-grader on the court for the first time–I must have tossed her ten balls in a row before she finally hit one. You can imagine my thrill when as a senior she had a winning record, because she was willing to put in the time. She’s representative of the many players who have given me ‘tennis highlights’ through their success."

When Hatch accepts his Hall of Fame tennis trophy, maybe it should sit a while in the Hillcrest tennis shack. There you’ll probably find him most nights–stringing racquets, running leagues, ready to talk tennis. That, after all, is a life Hatch has chosen to the benefit of Brookings and SD tennis.