Three former University of Minnesota men's tennis players - Bernie Gunderson (Minneapolis, Minn.), Dave Mathews (Eden Prairie, Minn.) and Jack Thommen (Minneapolis, Minn.) - were inducted into the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Northern Hall of Fame on July 20. Also joining the Hall was Cliff Caine, Dee Dolny and Chris Dummermuth.
The six honorees joined an elite list of 80 other members and will soon have a plaque hanging in the USTA Northern Hall of Fame at the Fred Wells Tennis and Education Center in St. Paul, Minn. Fifteen former Golden Gopher players or coaches are currently enshrined in the USTA Northern Hall of Fame.
Bernie Gunderson - Gunderson has been a force on the Minnesota tennis scene since the 1940s. A player at the University of Minnesota in 1947 and '48, Gunderson was sectionally-ranked in both singles and doubles, winning the men’s 55 singles title in 1983-84, the 60s crown in 1987 and '89, the 65s championship in 1992 and the 70s title four different times, including 1999. He also has played in a number of national senior tennis tournaments.
Off the court, Gunderson was the secretary/treasurer of the Northwest Tennis Association in 1959 and '60 before serving as president in 1961 and '62. In 1964, Gunderson Urban Tennis Program, serving as an instructor and site director.
Dave Mathews - Mathews has been involved in tennis on all levels including as a player, coach, teaching professional, equipment rep and volunteer. The 1967 and 1968 Minnesota state doubles champion at Edina High School, Mathews played at the University of Minnesota in 1971 and 1972, serving as captain in 71. He was the Big Ten Consolation champion at #2 singles and was a semifinalist at #1 doubles in 1972.
Once graduating from the U, Mathews was the first teaching professional at the Northwest Athletic Clubs, starting for Jack Roach in 1971 at the Richfield Racquet Club. He remained with the Northwest Clubs until 1989, before serving as a District Sales Manager for both Dunlop (1988-95) and HEAD/Penn Racquet Sports (1995-current). He was the Dunlop/Slazinger Salesman of the Year in 1991 and the Head Racquet Sports Rookie of the Year in 1996.
Mathews has also served two terms on the USTA Northern Board of Directors. His first stint was as an at large representative from 1977-84 and he currently is the secretary of the board after serving as a member at large from 2003-06. While on the Board, Mathews has been involved with the Hall of Fame, Board Development, Diversity and is the chairman of the Compensation Committee. He was also President of the Northwest Professional Tennis Association in 1981-82 and served as head tester from 1983-86. He was named the NWPTA Pro of the Year in 1982 and the NWPTA Player of the Year in ’83.
A top-ranked player both as a junior and adult in the Section, Mathews was ranked fifth in open singles in 1985 and was #1 in mixed doubles for the USPTA in 1989. He won the National Public Parks title in 50 doubles in both 2001 and 2003 and was NWTA Sectional men’s doubles champion in 183. Mentored by Dave Poehler, Roach and Hall of Famer Jerry Noyce, Mathews was a member of the USTA Senior 4.5 team that won the national championship in 2002 and served as the Sectional Junior Davis Cup Coach from 1975-78. He also coached fellow Hall of Famer David Wheaton in the boys 12s and Chris Laitila in boys 14s.
Jack Thommen - Thommen was one of the top players in the state of Minnesota during the 1940s and 50s. He was the Minnesota state high school singles finalist in 1944 and '45, before winning the doubles title in 1946. He was also the Interscholastic High School singles and doubles runner-up that same year. In 1949, Thommen won the MIAC singles championships while at Gustavus Adolphus after defeating two-time defending champion and USTA Northern Hall of Famer Bucky Olson in the finals. In that match, Thommen was down 2-6, 0-5, 0-40 when it started to rain. After the rain delay, Thommen came back to win the match. Thommen went on to letter at the University of Minnesota from 1951-53.
Thommen was one of the original founders of the Urban Tennis Program, working with the program until his retirement in 1989. In 1975, Thommen won the Northern Tennis Association’s President’s Award and in 1986 was recognized with the Ward Burton Junior Development Award.