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HTA builds new tennis shed at high school thanks to unexpected generosity

Lyle Steffenson, who died in 2016, coached Hastings tennis for 30 years and was a tremendous advocate for tennis in the community. It was a donation by his family in his memory that helped make building the new shed a reality. Photo courtesy of Rochelle Nielsen

The Hastings Tennis Association and Hastings High School collaborated, with generous help from several community members, and built a new tennis storage shed at the HHS tennis courts this past spring. The shed will be dedicated 7 p.m. Friday, July 21, during the Rivertown Days Tennis Tournament. The ceremony will also recognize the gift from the Lyle Steffenson Memorial that helped make building the shed this year possible.

Several years ago it was identified that with the growth of the HHS tennis programs and its general growth in the community, a new storage shed was needed to adequately store equipment. Bids were accepted for a new shed and former HHS principal Tom Johnson, as well as Superintendent Tim Collins, promised financial help. That help was combined with the proceeds from the 2016 Rivertown Days Tennis Tournament, but they were still short the funds. Which is when help came from an unexpected but familiar source.

The tennis shed at the HHS tennis courts that was made possible by the Hastings community. Photo courtesy Rochelle Nielsen

After the 2016 death of longtime HHS tennis coach and promoter Lyle Steffenson, his widow, Carole, and their children, donated $3,500 in his memory to make the shed a reality. Lyle coached both boys' and girls' tennis teams during a 30-year coaching career where his teams went a combined 329-60. He was honored as the Minnesota Tennis Coach of the Year in 1991-1992 and then in 2000 was inducted into the Minnesota Tennis Hall of Fame. In the 1970s, it was Steffenson who led the charge to install lights at the tennis courts by Roadside Park. He retired to the Nisswa area in 1996 but continued to keep track of the Hastings tennis teams, as well as coached the Pequot Lakes girls' team and founded a middle school tennis program.

When additional needs were identified, including a ramp into the shed for equipment carts, shelving and staining the shed, numerous other community members stepped up to help out. Mark Howd donated the materials and his time to help build the ramp, Julie and Steve Henrichs did the same for the shelving and cabinets, the stain was donated by Sherwin Williams and David Caneff, when approached for a bid to stain the shed, said he would do it for free as well.

The new shed at the HHS tennis courts could not have happened without the generosity of the above groups and individuals and the HTA would like to thank them. It will also feature a plaque in honor of the gift from the Steffenson family.

Alec Hamilton

Alec Hamilton is a RiverTown Multimedia sports reporter covering Hastings, Farmington and Rosemount athletics. He graduated from Drake University with a journalism degree in 2014. 

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