By David J. Hill
At 51, Ken White (BA ’88) is tearing up the senior pro tennis circuit—an impressive feat considering that, after being an All-American at UB, he didn’t start playing seriously again as an adult until the age of 43. Though White tried his hand on the pro circuit after college, he soon decided to focus on family and his outdoors business instead.
Now, his kids in college and his business on solid footing, he is back at the net—and it’s as if he never left. Last spring, he played in Turkey as a member of the U.S. team competing in the Fred Perry Cup, an International Tennis Federation (ITF) team competition that’s the senior equivalent of the Davis Cup. The Elma, N.Y., native earned a trip to the world championships in March 2013 by ranking among the top three players in his age group. He’s been ranked among the top 10 in both singles and doubles in the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) every year for the past seven years.
White will travel to Mission Hills, Calif., for the ASICS World Tennis Classic in late January. If he’s fortunate enough to make the team again, he’ll compete in the ITF world championships in Miami this March.
Since joining the senior circuit, White has defeated players who were among the best in the game as younger men. This list includes Scott Davis, a top 25 player in the early 1980s. Most people don’t realize the caliber of players who compete in the senior tournaments, says White, who was inducted into the UB Athletics Hall of Fame in 1995. “Guys that were ranked in the top 20 in the world earlier in their careers now play the same tournaments I play. Michael Chang has played some of the tournaments I’ve been in. These guys are still in tip-top shape. If you win a title, you struggled to do it.”
Encouraging White every step of the way is his fiancée, Megan Connelly (JD ’09). “It just doesn’t happen without a good partner,” White says, adding that his True Blue spirit helps motivate him as well. “I learned determination and persistence from the classroom and athletics, and I apply both of those every day of my life,” he says. “I feel very loyal to UB and still bleed UB blue.”