Coach Bernis Duke

Picture this: A fledgling university is just three years old, and the president wants to raise awareness of its existence. He has a talk with the assistant basketball coach, who suggests that the school start a men's tennis team. Given the go-ahead -- but with a limited budget -- said coach tries to recruit players from inside the U.S.; not many takers. So, he comes up with a frugal plan that proves wildly successful: he sends picture postcards of the university to international tennis associations and foreign newspapers.

To borrow a basketball term: slam dunk. The first team, primarily drawn from South Africa, Finland, and other nations, goes 24-0 in its first season and creates a winning tradition that endures for years.

What has also endured is Coach Duke's reputation as a smart, compassionate, encouraging, and loyal member of the ORU family -- someone deserving of the utmost respect and honor. When he stepped down from coaching tennis, it wasn't the end of his ORU tenure. He taught badminton for many years, becoming a favorite of recent generations of ORU students.

A key component of ORU's 50th Anniversary Campaign is the ONEOK Sports Complex. Within the complex, ORU is building a new, state-of-the-art Tennis Center. In recognition of Coach Duke's more than 50 years of service here at ORU and all he has meant to the campus community, we want to name this center for him. Friends, family, colleagues, and former students are invited to join us in raising $500,000 for this purpose.

Coach Duke 1965  Coach Duke, 1965           Coach Duke at Homecoming 2013 Coach at Homecoming 2013

These are some of the future Tennis Center's features and benefits:

  • Six courts with state-of-the-art surfaces, fences, and lighting.
  • With high-quality facilities, coaches can continue to recruit high-quality athletes.
  • Faculty, staff, students, and alumni will be able to use the courts.
  • ORU can take advantage of new opportunities to host college and high school tennis events -- good for ORU and good for the Tulsa community.

You can help make the Coach Duke Tennis Center a reality. Click here to make a gift; under "Designation," select "Duke Tennis." Share your stories and memories of the coach on social media, using the hashtag #ORUCoachDuke.

Coach Duke will receive a certificate listing the names of all those who contribute to this project.

Call us in the office of Development at 918.495.7220 if you have questions.

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