A few days after he stood in front of a group of admirers including friends, fellow coaches and former players – including some from his first Holland High School tennis team in 1972 – Dwayne “Tiger” Teusink drove past the courts that now bear his name.
It’s a welcoming sight honoring someone who has welcomed thousands though the sport over more than a half century as a coach and administrator.
Teusink, a 1954 graduate of Holland High and later Hope College, coached high school tennis at Jackson for seven years and then Holland for 35 while also lending a significant behind-the-scenes voice in the formation of high school tennis as it’s played in Michigan today.
He was recognized for those and many more contributions during the Dutch’s Homecoming weekend Sept. 24 as reportedly more than 200 attendees cheered the renaming of the 5-year-old Holland High facility as the “Tiger Teusink Courts” in honor of the longtime teacher, athletic director and coach.
“The whole experience was overwhelming,” Teusink said Tuesday. “Our facility is a first-rate facility. Holland has always had a great tennis program. The community supports tennis, and this facility obviously belongs to the community, but it makes me really proud that my name is associated with it.”
He’s been associated with most of the foundation-setting of the sport both locally and statewide over the last five decades.
After his time at Jackson High, Teusink returned home to Holland in 1972 and continued as a teacher until 1989 and coach until 1998. He led high school teams to a 453-176-4 record with 13 conference and 16 MHSAA Regional titles, and his Holland boys team was a runner-up at the 1976 Class A Final. He also coached at Hope College from 1994-2009.
At a statewide level, Teusink’s work has affected thousands more. He was on the committee that in 1976 introduced the flighted MHSAA tournament structure developed to promote a team format that remains the standard today. While at Holland, Teusink managed 63 Regional and 17 MHSAA Finals tournaments, and he served on the Finals seeding committee from 1980-2011.
He continues to serve on the MHSAA tennis committee that annually considers rules changes and other business that pertains to the sport. He also has played a major role in the development of the Michigan Interscholastic Tennis Coaches Association, and held offices of president, vice president and secretary/treasurer over a 32-year span.
“He was a mentor to me on how to not only to teach the game, but more importantly teach kids the right way to compete and to enjoy the sport,” said Grand Haven Lakeshore Middle School principal Kevin Polston, who coached tennis at DeWitt from 1999-2002 and then both Buccaneers varsities from 2003-08, and served with Teusink on the MHSTeCA board. “I respected that he always stood for what was right, even if it wasn't easy. You always knew where Tiger stood on something, and he could clearly explain why he came to the conclusions he did. Quite simply, when Tiger spoke, people listened.”
Kevin O’Keefe played four seasons for Teusink before graduating in 1986 and has heard from a number of other alums how their coach was ahead of his time.
As the current Dutch coach since 2008, O’Keefe inherited the “big binder bible” of Teusink’s lesson and practice plans that also contains his mentor’s thoughts on everything from conducting challenge matches to motivating players and working with parents.
“He’d come every day with a plan in mind and with an agenda,” O’Keefe said. “The logistics of how it works still work. A lot of it is still quite relevant.”
Other ways Teusink has become memorable and respected over the years are not known by many. His players always knew that being on time meant being five minutes early, and Teusink would have practices start at odd times like 3:14 or buses leave at 6:54 so his players wouldn’t forget. Polston received the mentor’s help one year running Grand Haven’s league tournament – and marveled at how Teusink allowed players to pick on which court they played, and then also kept track to make sure each school got to pick a court the same number of times.
A more significant philosophy surely benefited hundreds who have played for him. Teusink’s was a no-cut program; his teams regularly numbered 45-50 athletes. “That simply enhanced the things we did to teach teamwork, team discipline, belonging to a team and so on,” Teusink said.
Teusink earned induction into the Michigan High School Tennis Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1986, the Michigan High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1989 and the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2003. He was named National High School Coach of the Year by the United States Tennis Association in 2005, receiving his award at the U.S. Open.
Teusink captained the Hope College men’s basketball team during the 1957-58 season for Russ DeVette, who taught Teusink much about "simply coaching, how to deal with people." Teusink’s first mentor was Joe Moran, who preceded Teusink as Holland’s tennis coaching legend and is the namesake of one of the city’s public parks and tennis courts.
And just as Teusink drove by the sign bearing his name last week, he’ll surely visit more in the future as he remains a sounding board both for his former player and many tennis decision-makers in our state.
“He comes to probably 2-4 matches a year. We stay in touch. I still call him for things,” O’Keefe said. “He’s always there, always ready to answer a question, give advice.”
PHOTO: Tiger Teusink stands with the plaque presented to him Sept. 24, when the Holland High School tennis courts were renamed in his honor. (Photo courtesy of the Holland athletic department.)
ESCANABA — The Negaunee Miners have been the measuring stick in Upper Peninsula girls tennis for nearly a decade.
Negaunee, which came into this season as reigning Division 1 champion, has taken the U.P. crown seven of the past nine years. Ishpeming Westwood took the title in 2021.
Negaunee is 11-0-1 after a win over Gwinn on Tuesday. The tie came last week against Escanaba.
"We knew we were going to have a target on our backs," said Miners coach Kyle Saari. "We told the girls they have to be ready for every meet. The target is pretty huge, and I think we were sluggish out of the gate. I don't think we finished particularly well at the net. I think our tradition helps us for sure, although it can be a double-edged sword. We want to keep striving to reach benchmarks and make sure we don't get lackadaisical."
Sophomore Liliana Saunders is 12-0 at No. 2 singles. She was the UPD1 No. 4 single champion as a freshman.
"I'm starting to play my game," Saunders said after her 6-0, 6-1 victory over Escanaba’s Molly VanDamme. "I think I'm controlling the ball pretty well, but I need to work on my net play and improve my serving a little.
“Overall, we have a real strong team. We're pretty close-knit and play a lot over the summer. I think our tradition gives us a lot of confidence going into matches."
Saunders' summer work included a trip in early August to Escanaba, where she earned the age 16-18 title in the 76th Annual Michigan-Wisconsin Open with a 7-5, 6-0 victory over Escanaba senior Sophia Derkos.
"I think that really helped me," she said. "She's really a good player. My toughest match this season was against the Westwood girl (sophomore Samantha Ruby). The Gladstone girl (Addy Trombley) is also pretty good."
Derkos – last season’s UPD1 No. 1 singles champion – remained undefeated in five matches after taking a 6-0, 6-1 decision from Negaunee junior Aubrey Johnson at No. 1 singles last week.
"She's a good player, and they're a good team," Derkos said after the match. "This is a big win. I've been waiting to play them and Westwood. Those are the two toughest teams. This is a big confidence boost."
Johnson, last season’s UPD1 runner-up at No. 2 singles, bounced back with a 6-1, 6-1 triumph over Munising's Bailey Corcoran on Thursday and also won Tuesday, and gave Derkos her due after the Escanaba match.
"Sophia knows what she wants to do," said Johnson. "She plays at a pretty fast pace, and I didn't get to the net as much as I'd like. She's very patient. You can tell she's an experienced player. I can learn from playing against her."
The Miners, as they did in singles, split their four matches with Escanaba in doubles.
Seniors Sage Juntti and Olivia Lumseth are the reigning UPD1 champs at No. 2 doubles, and Kallen Schultz was part of the No. 3 champion last season and is playing No. 1 this fall with Madison Frustaglio, who was part of the 2022 runner-up at their flight.
“We have a very good coach. He always challenges us, so we can get better,” Juntti said. “We do our usual stuff. If it's not good, he just makes us work on it until it is good."
Except for the Escanaba tie and a 5-3 triumph over Westwood, all of the Miners' victories have been shutouts (8-0).
"The biggest part of our success is the girls are supportive of each other," Saari said. "They're all quality kids."
Negaunee's success also has made Escanaba coach Chris Ogren take notice.
"Kyle has been there a long time," he said. "They have one of the most athletic teams, and they're very disciplined. You always have to be ready when you play them.
“We have some good teams up here. You always have to be mentally prepared."
Negaunee hosts Gwinn, Menominee and Marquette before also hosting the Mid-Peninsula Conference tournament Sept. 27.
The U.P. Division 1 Finals will take place Oct. 4 in Marquette.
John Vrancic has covered high school sports in the Upper Peninsula since joining the Escanaba Daily Press staff in 1985. He is known most prominently across the peninsula for his extensive coverage of cross country and track & field that frequently appears in newspapers from the Wisconsin border to Lake Huron. He received the James Trethewey Award for Distinguished Service in 2015 from the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.
PHOTO Negaunee’s Aubrey Johnson serves during her match against Escanaba’s Sophia Derkos on Sept. 13. (Photo by Mitch Vosburg/Escanaba Daily Press.)