“No quit” are the two best words to describe former collegiate all-American tennis talent Tim Blenkiron.
After all, the 43-year-old Las Vegan has not stopped hitting tennis balls since he was 2 years old.
The 2008 UNLV Hall of Famer was selected to coach the Vegas Rollers, the city’s first professional tennis team, who have joined World TeamTennis in its 44th season.
Entering the Rollers’ debut match Sunday at Orlando, Florida, the native Australian said he was hired because he represents Las Vegas.
“My whole adult life I’ve been in Las Vegas,” said Blenkiron, who moved to America from Australia at 17 but still maintains a thick Aussie accent. “Vegas has been home. I love Las Vegas second-most in my family, because my son loves it maybe just a little more than me. He’s so proud to be from Las Vegas. So that’s really what it’s all about for me.”
Blenkiron won the 1997 NCAA doubles championship with Luke Smith, crowning his career at UNLV.
“It’s special for sure,” he said. “The interesting thing achieving something like that, you think it’s going to last forever — the feeling — but it doesn’t.
“I had an absolutely amazing experience at UNLV. It really started my love affair with Las Vegas.”
Blenkiron met his wife, who is from Sweden, at UNLV and raised his son and daughter and started his tennis business career in Las Vegas.
Fast-forward 22 years, Blenkiron was courted to coach the Rollers, a nine-member roster he handpicked in the WTT draft.
“I’m very happy with the team I drafted,” Blenkiron said. “It was a lot more fun than I thought it was going to be. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.”
Blenkiron said it was a “pretty big gamble” when he traded his first-round pick with Washington to obtain the No.1 doubles team in history, Mike and Bob Bryan, who hold a team in his No Quit Tennis Academy.
Next, he drafted Las Vegas resident Asia Muhammad. Blenkiron has been training her since she was 11 years old, marking a 17-year relationship.
“She’s like another daughter to me,” he said. “Our bond is still very, very tight.”
He credits loyalty, faith and a trusted voice for their longtime player-coach relationship.
Muhammad, 28, said she is so grateful for Blenkiron and called him a “second father figure” in her life when she needed him the most, teaching life lessons along with tennis lessons.
Blenkiron, former director of tennis at Andre Agassi’s Boys &Girls Club of America, said his inspiration comes from the kids and the coaches at his academy.
Blenkiron’s No Quit Tennis Academy was recognized by the Tennis Channel as one of the top five in the U.S. The short list of achievements includes five students reaching No. 1 in the U.S., seven attaining No. 3 and 25 reaching No. 10.
In addition, seven of his students competed professionally, and 130 have earned college scholarships for academics and athletics to the best colleges in the nation.
Jonathan Eskin can be reached at email@example.com
Who: Vegas Rollers (0-0) vs. Orlando Storm (0-0)
When: 4 p.m. Sunday
Where: Lake Nona, Fla.
TV: Streaming at WTT.TV
Rollers coach: Tim Blenkiron
Rollers team: Bob Bryan, Mike Bryan, Jay Clarke, Harriet Dart, Asia Muhammad, Reilly Opelka, Sam Querrey, Matt Reid, Evan Song