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Gambucci family elected to N.D. Tennis Hall of Fame

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The Gambucci family sometimes woke up to loud 'thud' sounds coming from across the street.

It was just Dave Geatz, who went on to become the head men's tennis coach at Minnesota, hitting tennis balls against the backboard at Riverside Courts.

Eventually, the seven children of Serge and Eleanor Gambucci—Jim, Mary Ann, Nancy, Carol, John and Ann—would join Geatz.

So would three-time state champion Mark Jackson and local tennis legends Tim and Tom Wynne.

"Riverside was definitely the place where everybody hung out," said Carol (Gambucci) Sween. "If you wanted to play tennis, that was the place."

That was how the Gambuccis turned into perhaps North Dakota's most remarkable tennis family.

All seven children won North Dakota state championships.

Bill won state singles titles in 1967 and 1968. Jim won doubles in 1968 and singles in 1969. Mary Ann won singles in 1969, 1970 and 1971. Nancy won doubles in 1972. Carol won doubles in 1973 and 1974. John won doubles in 1974, 1975 and 1976 and singles in 1977. Ann won doubles in 1978.

For their achievements, the Gambucci family has been selected to the join the North Dakota Tennis Hall of Fame.

They are the first to be elected to the Hall of Fame as a family.

Their induction ceremony will take place at 4 p.m. on Aug. 4 at Bismarck's O'Leary Courts. They will be inducted along with the late Jack Pfister, a longtime promoter and tennis player from Wahpeton.

"It's a surprise to say the least," Carol said of her reaction. "It's a nice one."

The Gambuccis were nominated by Shelly Gunderson.

"They mentored so many kids, resulting in an unprecedented growth of the sport," Gunderson said. "They are truly the First Family of North Dakota tennis."

Carol said it was invaluable to have siblings who played the sport. And when the younger siblings weren't taking Park Board lessons, they were hitting with the oldest brothers.

"I would beg them to hit with me," she said. "For someone who is learning, it's great to have someone to learn from who knows how to hit. They can hit it right to you. We always had someone to play with us. Riverside was a great playground across the street. I'm sure we played just about every day."

The North Dakota Tennis Hall of Fame opened at Choice Health and Fitness in 2014. The Gambucci Family and Pfister will be the 16th and 17th members.

Brad Elliott Schlossman

Schlossman is in his 13th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2016 and 2018, he was named the top beat writer in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He also was the NCHC's inaugural Media Excellence Award winner in 2018. Schlossman has voted in the national college hockey poll since 2007 and has served as a member of the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Award committees.

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