March 11, 2013
By Jon Cooper
It’s a big country out there and Kevin King is seeing all of it.
Since graduation in the fall of 2012, with his degree in Mechanical Engineering, King, the highest rated recruit ever to attend Georgia Tech, has gone from being All-America to seeing all America, crossing the United States in pursuit of events to play.
He played singles and doubles in a tournament in Florida in late January, following that up by playing played in an event in Texas.
“It’s good so far,” said King of his inaugural journey on the pro tour Monday afternoon from Calabasas, Calif. “These are the first tournaments I’m playing since graduating, but it’s nice to be able to have some more time to really focus on the training and I’m looking forward to playing in this tournament.”
Monday was a good day as the Peachtree City native who was three-time All-ACC, and All-America as a senior, won his match, qualifying him for the main draw of a $15,000 futures event. He begins play on Wednesday in the tournament, which runs through Sunday.
King has played singles and doubles professionally, seeing some positive results. That shouldn’t be surprising as in his four years at Georgia Tech (2008-12), he saw plenty of success, reaching No. 7 in the nation in singles as a senior and graduating as the school’s all-time leading winner in doubles (87 matches). He and partner Juan Spir ranked as high as No. 2 in the country. Off the court he was four-time ACC Academic Honor Roll.
In the tournament in Florida he qualified in singles and reached the finals of an event in doubles, teaming with Florida State grad Vahid Mirzadeh, a former opponent.
“I knew him from college,” King said. “You get to know a lot of the college players. We’re all playing the same tournaments so you get to know each other pretty well.”
His schedule then took him to Texas, where King got the opportunity to relive a little bit of his glory days as a Yellow Jacket, partnering with former teammate Dean O’Brien. Together they reached the finals in one of their tournaments.
“It was great playing with Dean,” he said. “We were on the team for two years and we’re real good friends so that was a lot of fun.”
Getting to continue to play, this time for keeps, is fun but there is a lot of leg work involved, as King is his own schedule-maker and travel agent. He’s up to the challenge.
“I schedule tournaments myself and I talk with my coach,” he said. “It’s not too difficult. There’s a system that you go through and it’s all pretty much on-line. So it’s a pretty easy process once you do it a few times.”
There are two more tournaments on the immediate horizon, one in Oklahoma and another in Arkansas, but before that King plans on coming back to Atlanta to recharge his batteries.
Time permitting, the M.E. grad has another potential iron in the fire, one that could have an effect on the future of tennis. It was his senior project, done with four other Tech students.
The idea was a racket that through the vibrations following contact with the ball, measured how closely a player came to hitting the ball on the racket’s sweet spot. That information would allow a coach alter the player’s swing.
The racket won a competition amongst some 80 school engineering students.
“That is a cool thing!,” said Tech men’s tennis head Ccoach Kenny Thorne. “It was a beginner’s racket that you use at the Academies to where you got positive affirmation that you hit the ball where you’re supposed to on the strings. He did it by measuring the vibration of the strings at certain points around the racket. It has to work and I guess it worked.”
King believes there is a market for the racket.
“Beginner tennis and 10-and-under tennis has been a focal point of the Tennis Federation recently so that really is a market that is hot right now,” King said. “It’s a pretty cool idea for tennis players.
“When the project ended we did not have a finished product and I haven’t been with the team to continue finishing it,” he added. “They all took jobs in different cities so we’re still trying to figure out how we’re going to make that work.”
King admits that plans to get everyone together to work on the project have kind of stalled and although he’d like to market a prototype, that is becoming increasingly difficult.
“That’s something that if we can get together again and keep working on it that would definitely be what we want to do,” he said. “We haven’t really gone in that direction at this point.”
Traveling in so many directions, King likely will try to keep things simple when he comes back home next week, choosing to focus his energies on training. Then it’s get back on line and on the road.
“I kind of have a tentative schedule for the future, but it can always change, depending on results and what you need,” he said. “If you need more training or need more matches. So there’s nothing really set in stone after those two tournaments.”