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Blue Earth teams, coach a big part of boys tennis history book

By Staff | Oct 27, 2008

Jim Holden has been on a five-year mission. That is how long it took him to complete a book about the history of boys high school tennis in Minnesota.

He interviewed more than 300 people, read every Twin Cities newspaper dealing with the state tennis meet, and studied the high school league’s sports yearbooks.

It resulted in a 450 page book with every detail of boys tennis.

Holden is a retired Northfield boys tennis coach, and English teacher. At the time he retired in 2001, he had moved on to become a professor at Gustavus Adolphus College.

“I said, I can write this book,” he says. “Little did I know then what it would involve.”

He wrote three to four hours a day, unless he was busy playing tennis or off spoiling his grandchildren.

Finally, in 2007 it was completed and edited. It was published earlier this spring.

His book is self-published. That means, he says, that it was not cheap.

“It costs a lot of money every step of the way,” he says. “So it is a labor of love.”

He had 2,000 printed and so far he has sold about 500 of those.

Holden was in Blue Earth last week, speaking to various groups, signing copies of the book, and, of course, trying to sell some of them.

“There are a lot of references to Blue Earth in the book,” Holden says.

Legendary Buccaneer tennis coach Hal Schroeder is included in the book in several chapters. Schroeder was with Holden at the Blue Earth book signings.

Blue Earth Area is predominantly listed in a chapter titled “Tennis Dynasties.” Holden lists five schools as dynasties, and Blue Earth Area is one of those, along with Edina, Rochester, St. Cloud and Blake.

“I had a series of criteria for judging what a dynasty school would be,” Holden says. “Those included at least three state titles, dominating section competition, a long-time coach, and at least 10 state appearances.

In the chapter about BEA, Holden starts with a question – “How could a small town of under 4,000 population generate a tennis powerhouse that competed with the Twin Cities and Rochester schools? Was it the blue-green clay, or the influence of the Green Giant.

He goes on to list the three state tournament championships, 22 regional titles, 25 South Central Conference championships and eight individual state title wins.

He points to the Herculean efforts of Coach Hal Schroeder, and also to the fact that four talented Anderson brothers moved here in 1977.

The Anderson boys accounted for six of the eight state individual titles.

They are not the only Buc players listed in the book. There are quite a few others.

“Some people say that a team needs to have the ‘horses’ (great players) to win,” Holden says. “But I think it is the coaching that makes a dynasty.

That is why Schroeder was the first inductee into the Hall of Fame, Holden says. “Coaching takes a lot of hard work and dedication.

Holden jokingly says he remembers Schroeder’s Buccaneers knocking off his Northfield team in the state tournament.

“I still haven’t gotten over it,” he says with a chuckle.