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Terry Nielsen Bio

If you have been involved with tennis in Sioux Falls at some point in the last 20 years, chances are that you know Terry Nielsen.

Terry, a Sioux Falls native, has spent the past 20 years promoting and organizing activities to enhance the great game of tennis. For all his volunteer efforts, Terry is being inducted into the 2000 South Dakota Tennis Hall of Fame.

Terry and his wife Linda live in Sioux Falls and have two sons, Christopher and Drew. This year Terry celebrated 30 years in the insurance business, with Nielsen Insurance Services, Inc.

Though known best for his efforts off the court, Terry has known success on the court as well. A tri-captain for the South Dakota State tennis team in 1968, he competed for two years in the North Central Conference, playing #1 singles and doubles as a senior. Prior to that, he won the intramural singles championship as a sophomore. Terry has captured numerous city and state doubles titles. He teamed with Jim Van Gerpen, a 1997 Hall of Fame Inductee, to win the Men’s 35 Doubles title at the SD Closed in 1986, defeating Gerald Sayler and Terry Jordre. And he and Reid Hans have two 45 doubles titles in the SD Open.

In 1981, Terry became the president of the Sioux Falls Tennis Association. As the head of the SFTA through 1983, he was heavily involved in the McKennan Park tennis courts reconstruction project. He assisted Judy Rost to lead a citizen fund drive that resulted in a $20,000 donation to the city for the project. McKennan Courts had its ribbon-cutting in the Fall of 1982, and today is the site of the SD State High School Tournaments, as well as the SD Junior and Adult Open. Terry also helped re-ignite the Sioux Falls Area Junior Tennis Patrons, a group whose mission is to provide scholarship and instruction to area youth.

Mary Thompson, SFTA executive director and long-time tournament director, reflected upon Terry’s leadership. "As the SFTA has evolved into the dynamic organization it is today, Terry has been there to encourage, support and inspire the growth. As the SFTA tournaments, including a National amateur event in 1995, have flourished, Terry has been a reliable and creative source of help. His sincere concerns for community, ‘grassroots’ tennis, have always been broad, yet realistic."

In the mid-1980’s, Terry led a fundraiser which raised $3,500 in helping pay for the resurfacing of six courts at Augustana College. Also at that time, he began serving as a board member of the Northwestern Tennis Association. Throughout his eight years on the board, he wrote and submitted articles, stories and photos to area media and the NWTA official publication. He also helped the NWTA coordinate a "schools" program in Sioux Falls private and public schools, whereby tennis was introduced to elementary and middle school students. The program gave away many racquets and other equipment to junior players.

When his friend Ross Fenn died tragically in 1989, Terry teamed with Jamie Volin to recognize Ross’ contributions to tennis. They decided to award a Fenn Cup, starting at the 1990 SD Adult Open, to the men’s and women’s singles champions. During this process, spurred on by an idea from John Egan, a committee was formed to begin the South Dakota Tennis Hall of Fame. A successful fundraiser was held at Woodlake Athletic Club, which helped fund a South Dakota tennis history/trophy case. The drive also enabled the start of the Hall of Fame, and a permanent marker recognizing inductees was installed at McKennan Park in 1991, the year of the first inductions.

Terry continues to co-chair the SD Tennis Hall of Fame with Jamie Volin, as they have since day one. He handles the programming of the induction ceremony, and edits the Hall of Fame brochure. The countless hours Terry has dedicated to the SD Tennis Hall of Fame has helped make it what it is today.

1992 Hall of Fame inductee Don Grebin had this to say of his fellow Hall-of-Famer: "Terry epitomizes the type of leadership needed to accomplish any endeavor involving the cooperative effort of a given group. His enthusiasm combined with a willingness to do the work required are major factors in the realization of a South Dakota Tennis Hall of Fame. The tennis community is forever indebted."

For all his efforts, Terry has received much in return. "My payback is a simple trip to the courts–seeing people of all ages enjoying tennis and the many friendships to which it leads. Tennis is a true test of character–one sport where you are trusted, in essence, to make calls against yourself," said Terry.