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The Townsend Family

By Brad Green


The Volins, the Sandvigs, the Webers, the Paluchs, and the Bells. These are a few of the legendary families in South Dakota tennis history. Now we will add the Townsends to this list.

 Bill and Teresa Townsend of Sioux Falls and their four children: Matt, Meg, Izzy and Rachel have been chosen as the Tennis Achievement Award winners for this year.

 Bill was born and raised in Sioux Falls and attended St. Mary School.

 He said he took to the game at an early age thanks in part to living close to a familiar tennis haunt.

 “I grew up on 4th Avenue just down the street from McKennan Park,” Bill said. “One of the things in the summertime though is we’d meet some friends up at McKennan Park. That’s really how I got started in the game of tennis. Michelle Volin at the time lived right across from the park and she encouraged me and one of my best buddies, Stu Becker, to get involved and play up in the South Dakota Closed up in Brookings.”

Teresa, who is the former Teresa Trysla, was born and raised in South Sioux City, Neb., where she also began the game as a youth.


“My family played (tennis),” she said. “It was kind of a family thing that we would do together.”

Bill moved onto O’Gorman High School in the fall of 1976. He quickly became immersed in the Knights’ sports scene as he played football, basketball, baseball and tennis. He played football for legendary coach Bob Burns while also playing basketball and tennis for current O’Gorman boys and girls tennis coach Don Barnes.

In the spring of 1980, the Knights earned their first-ever state championship in boys tennis under the leadership of Ron Selkirk. Bill contributed to the title as he won the Flight 4 singles title and later teamed with Steve Rost to claim the Flight 2 doubles crown.

“It was awesome,” Bill said. “You know back then, it was just four singles and two doubles but we swept the whole thing. It felt really good. That was my first state championship and a lot of fun.”

He graduated from O’Gorman and Teresa graduated from South Sioux City High School with the Class of 1980. They met later that fall at The University of South Dakota in Vermillion in freshman Speech class. While in Vermillion, Bill played defensive back for the Coyotes’ football team for four years under Coach Dave Triplett.

After graduating with degrees in finance and education respectively, Bill and Teresa got married and headed south to Lincoln, Neb. where he went to work for Federated Insurance. While in Lincoln, their son Matt was born. The family moved to Sioux Falls when Matt was two and Bill began working for Howalt-McDowell Insurance. Matt was later joined by sisters Meg, Izzy and Rachel, all of whom would come to play the game their parents enjoyed so much.

Matt played four years of varsity tennis for the Knights’ boys team. His career saw him win three  singles titles at three different flights (Flight 6 in 2002, Flight 4 in 2003 and Flight 3 in 2005) and bring home two doubles crowns at a pair of different flights (Flight 3 in 2004 with Nolan Wiese and Flight 2 in 2005 also with Wiese). Thanks to the efforts of Matt and his teammates, O’Gorman claimed two state championships in 2003 and 2005.

Meg played six years of varsity tennis for the Knights’ girls team. She ended her career as a part of four straight state championship teams from 2007-2010. Meg herself brought home four individual state championships (Flight 4 in 2006, Flight 2 in 2007, Flight 3 in 2009 and Flight 2 again in 2010) and three doubles championships for O’Gorman. She teamed with Theresa Petrasko to earn the Flight 1 doubles crowns from 2008 and 2009 before claiming her third straight Flight 1 doubles title in 2010 with Hannah Vandemark.

Izzy played three years of varsity tennis for the Knights before being forced to give up the sport due to developing an illness called POTS.

Rachel played four years of varsity tennis for O’Gorman and was a part of the Knights’ 2014 state championship team and won the Flight 3 doubles championship that year with Mira Yousef.

After Rachel graduated from O’Gorman, Teresa said she did not want to be an empty nester so they invited Danielle Sebata, the current Flight 1 player for the Knights’ girls team, to live with them. Sebata has done so for the past two years. She claimed three Flight 1 singles championships and three Flight 1 doubles titles before graduating from O’Gorman this spring.

Teresa talked about the significance with Bill and later all of their kids for the opportunity to play tennis for Coach Barnes.

“It was fun that Bill had him and then to have all our kids be able to play for him,” she said. “That’s something special. You really don’t get that very often.”

The family resides near McKennan Park, home courts for the O’Gorman tennis programs. All six members have enjoyed professional and educational success.

Bill serves as the President of Property & Casualty operations for the Sioux Falls branch of Marsh & McLennan insurance agency. Teresa is the Director of Religious Education for St. Mary Parish.

Matt is a business finance graduate of the University of Notre Dame and also has an MBA from the University of Michigan. He lives in Washington, D.C. where he works for Guidehouse LLP supporting the Department of Justice and FBI accounts.

Meg, like her brother, is a business finance graduate of Notre Dame. She is married to Dane Washenberger and lives in Minneapolis, Minn. where she works in corporate finance for Target.

Izzy graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in psychology. She has added to her education as will graduate this summer with an accelerated nursing degree. Upon graduation, Izzy will work as a pediatric nurse for Sanford Health.

Rachel is a junior at the University of Colorado in Boulder where she is studying finance and data analytics and will graduate in May 2020.

A cause near and dear to Bill’s heart is the Huether Family Match Pointe in the Sanford Sports Complex. The indoor tennis facility boasts six tennis courts, one of which even bears the family’s name.

Bill was involved in the fundraising effort in order to obtain the remaining monies to make the place a reality for the Sioux Falls tennis community.

“That was a just labor of being in certain positions at certain parts of my life,” he said. “The Sanford Sports Complex was happening and so they were gracious enough to offer us the land then we started with the fundraising. We raised a little over a million (dollars) with just the tennis community. Then we got a Chamber drive, raised another 1.2 (million dollars) and we were well on our way.”

Bill added the reason that his family has supported the venue is so that next generation of tennis players can begin an association with the sport that has given his family so much.

“Our family’s support financially out there is for the little kids,” Bill said. “It was truly a family deal and we couldn’t be prouder to have our name out there and be associated with it.”

On behalf of the South Dakota Tennis Hall of Fame selection committee, we proudly celebrate The Townsend Family as our Tennis Achievement Award winners for 2019! Congratulations to Bill, Teresa, Matt, Meg, Izzy and Rachel!