Nancy Hougland of Olathe fell in love with tennis at the age of 12, and 40 years later, the love affair is still alive. The high point in her career came on July 22, when she was inducted into the South Dakota Tennis Hall of Fame in Sioux Falls, S.D.
“I was humbled by this incredible honor,” she said. “It made me realize that I grew up in a great era for tennis.”
When she was 12, her mother signed her up for summer tennis lessons in the city park in Sioux Falls.
“My mom wanted something for me to do during the summer,” Hougland said.
And the rest, as they say, is history. She has been playing the game ever since.
“I love the sport,” she said. “My generation just loves the sport. People love to play tennis and have fun playing.”
She played collegiate tennis for a year at South Dakota, then transferred to South Dakota State for the last three years. Her collegiate years of 1978-1982 saw her win a number of singles championships. She won several state championships, and as a senior, won a Division II championship, which included seven states.
Hougland twice represented South Dakota in the Seventeen Magazine Tennis Tournament of Champions.
After college, she returned home to her local park district to coach the Junior Davis Cup players. It was on the courts where she played growing up that she met her husband, Mike, who was a good tennis player himself. Competing in mixed doubles, the pair won the Family Equitable Mixed Doubles championship for the northern states.
Hougland even played while pregnant with sons Adam (27), Ross (25) and Luke (18).
The sport is still a big deal in the Hougland family. Luke played golf at Olathe South, graduating last May, but is headed to Kansas State to play club tennis. Ross played tennis for two years at Emporia State, where his dad participated in the game.
“Our whole family plays tennis,” Hougland said. “That is what helps keep us together.”
Nancy currently teaches tennis and is director of leagues at the Midwest Athletic Club in Overland Park. She has been in the position for the past 16 years.
“Tennis is a social thing,” she said. “And it keeps people physically active. It’s a lifetime sport like golf.”
What has tennis meant to her?
“The best friends in my life I met through tennis,” she said. “And it has kept me active.”