For the past 25 years, Elma resident Ken White has been one of the top open tennis players in Western New York.
What makes this feat truly amazing is that White is 50 years old and has competed against all of the top youngsters during all of those years. White has won 15 national titles in the 40, 45, and 50 national age group tournaments. His best win occurred a few months ago when he defeated Scott Davis, who was formerly ranked No. 11 on the pro tour in singles, and No. 2 on the tour in doubles.
As phenomenal as these accomplishments are, White may have surpassed all of them when he was recently notified that he has been selected to play on the United States Tennis Association’s Fred Perry Cup Senior 50-and-Over Team in the International Tennis Federation’s World Team Championships, which run Thursday through April 1.
He and three other Americans will compete against other 50-and-over teams in singles and doubles in team competition the first week and then in the individual singles and doubles matches the second week.
White was overwhelmed and honored when he received word that he would be playing on the national team.
“I couldn’t believe it when I opened the letter,” White said. “I have been an alternate for the Cup team for a number of years, but had never gotten the call to actually play.”
White will join playing captain Michael Tammen of Portland, Ore., Bill Moss of Malibu, Calif. and Tom Schlack of Long Beach, Calif., as the four American players to represent the U.S. in Turkey.
“It is such a great honor to represent the USA and Buffalo,” White said. “I’m really looking forward to playing against the best players in the world and hope to play my best tennis.”
White’s credentials for playing on the team are impressive. He won five national 50-and-over titles in 2012, winning two tournaments in Carmel, Ind., the National Grass Court Doubles in Philadelphia, and two tournaments in the Fiesta Bowl in Scottsdale, Ariz.
White admits that he has never worked harder in preparation for this venture. White, who stands 6-foot-2, weighed about 225 pounds six weeks ago and knew that he had to get down to 215 pounds to play at his best in Turkey.
“Bobby Bateson, the owner of Body Blocks, has put me on a vigorous workout training program,” he said.
He is heavy into aerobic exercises and weight training. He spends a short time on a variety of machines and takes a short rest between each one. It is a grueling workout and lasts an hour. White does the training two to three times a week and is already close to his prefered playing weight.
White plays almost every morning from 6:30 to 8 at Miller Tennis Center or the Quaker Aurora Tennis Club. He then tries to get a singles or doubles match later in the day and also works with the ball machine.
“I have been fortunate that Gary Schutrum and Derek Acker, both excellent players, have altered their schedules to play with me almost every morning,” White said. “It has been a tremendous help.”
White, UB tennis’ only Division I All-American, is one of the most incredible competitors I have ever seen, regardless of the sport.
“I’ve always stayed in shape,” White said. “When I step on the court all gloves are off. I hate second place. However, I am realistic. I know that I am going to lose now and then. It just motivates me to play harder for the next tournament.”
Where did this competitive spirit and will to win stem from? White gives all of the credit to Bill Monkarsh, the former tennis coach at UB, who is also in the Western New York Tennis Hall of Fame with White. White relates that Monkarsh was a great motivator and was relentless.
“He would motivate you to achieve things that you never thought possible, both in your personal life and in tennis,” White said. “I owe him a lot.”
“The backing and encouragement of the the local tennis community has been critical to any success that I have achieved,” White said, “Playing in Turkey against the best players in the world will be truly awesome and an experience that I will never forget.”
Miller Tennis Center will host a benefit April 7 from 6 to 10 p.m. to defray some of the expenses that Ken White will incur on his trip to Turkey. The event includes food, round robin tennis play at 7:30, and a 50-50 split. For information, call 632-8600.