OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa High School tennis program will be hosting an inaugural tournament that honors hall-of-fame coach Dan Staggs. The tournament will be held on Monday and Tuesday at the Ottumwa Country Club courts with boys tennis champions in both 14-and-under and 18-and-under age divisions.
On Monday, tournament action begins at Noon with the 18-and-under tournament being held. The top-two seeds are Henry Bishop and Nick McElroy. Other participants include Cale Leonard, Steven Langland, Mason Young, Lucas Barnes, Blake Myers, Trey Hull, Quintin Hull, Tristen Lord and Bernardo Gatica.
On Tuesday, the 14-and-under tournament will begin at 1:30 p.m. The top two seeds are Toby Schmidt and Moses Merrill. Other participants include Carson Kenney, Jarrett Wellings, Camden Cormeny and Cason Palm.
Staggs, a longtime Ottumwa High School coach, official and instructor for the sport of tennis at all levels, passed away last September. Staggs came to Ottumwa in the summer of 1958 to run the free summer tennis program. He lived at the YMCA and worked with kids from both the Catholic and public school systems.
After teaching in Avon, Illinois, for three years, Staggs and his family moved to Ottumwa for a teaching position. It was at that time that Staggs started the boys high school tennis team in 1964 and the girls team in 1965.
Staggs also started a summer tennis program. Interest in tennis grew and eventually the community built 10 additional public courts, turned a parking lot into five summer courts, and built four courts at the Ottumwa Country Club, where the tournament in his honor will be held.
Staggs was a state runner-up in doubles before playing and winning state titles at Keokuk Junior College. Staggs went on to play as the top singles player and part of the top doubles team for the University of Northern Iowa.
Staggs was selected to the Iowa Tennis Hall of Fame in 1982 and has been a past member of the Girls and Boys Tennis Advisory Boards. In 2005, Staggs was one of eight coaches selected for the National Coach of the Year.
Staggs was honored as the 2016 tennis recipient of the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union's Golden Plaque of Distinction Award.