MSHSL History Capsule: Dave Healey
Posted: Wednesday, May 3, 2023 - 12:31 PM
In his youth, Rochester’s Dave Healey had planned to be a baseball player at every level.
Already a wunderkind at baseball by excelling at three different positions, his aspirations to continue playing at a higher level were derailed as a 13-year-old when he wanted to play American Legion ball. He didn’t meet the age requirement of 14 and wasn’t interested in playing midget baseball. In a passage shared in Tennis in the Northland, a history of high school tennis in Minnesota authored by Northfield’s Jim Holden, a downcast Healey had his spirits lifted when a friend, Roger Jackman, encouraged him to give tennis a try that summer.
By the end of the summer, he became the junior champion at the Rochester Tennis Club with a victory over Jackman.
Healey, who possessed a powerful service and quick feet, went on to have a standout career at Rochester High School and became the first boys tennis player to win three Minnesota State High School League singles championships.
As a freshman in 1952, he lost in the singles state championship to Minneapolis Washburn’s Charles Edwards. A year later, he reversed that with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Edwards. In the 1954 singles championship, he outlasted St. Cloud’s Ron Kleber for a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 victory in what would become the only match to go three sets for the remainder of his prep career. As a senior, he capped his high school career with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Duluth Central’s Chauncey Riggs. Healey trailed in the first set, 4-2, but rallied.
Prior to Healey’s three-peat of champions, the first multi-title winner was Minneapolis West’s Ken Boyum, who won two crowns in 1942 and 1943, respectively. Rochester’s Chuck Darley would match Healey’s three consecutive championships with a run of three from 1962-64.
The Boys Tennis State Tournament would become a two-class event in 1987.
Healey earned a scholarship to play for the University of Minnesota men’s tennis team and was the Gophers’ No. 1 singles player for three seasons.
He later would gave back to tennis through service in various roles with the United States Tennis Association.