We should have been suspicious ofTom Duke from the beginning. Any tall, lithe young kid who plays basketball, can jump, likes the beach, is competitive and is willing to play volleyball at home, on the beach, and at school has got to be watched.
We shouldn’t be surprised (his coach wasn’t.) At Dos Pueblo HS he was an all-league basketball player; in volleyball he was all-league and all CIF, right at the top. Something was up with this kid.
Then it started: while at USC he was a three-time allAmerican and was the National Player of the Year on a National Championship team in his junior year, 1988. During that period he began seriously playing on the beach and became aAAA doubles player. Next up for the young Duke was twice being named to the USA National Team- in 1990 and 1994.
He had become an accomplished professional. He played for eleven years in 20 different countries, the Spanish Professional League, the Dutch League, French League, the German League, and with the USA in the Asian International 4-man Beach Tour. He became one of those guys who plays games for money, is most expert, competes against the best in the world and loves the game.
In the early 90’s he played on the prestigious Bud Light professional 4-Man Beach Tour and became the Rookie of the Year and 1992 Tour MVP, winning 13 championship titles.
Those of us involved in athletics appreciate those three letters- pro; we save those for the best. That’s the ultimate compliment: “He’s a real pro!”