Pro Tennis Player & Elite Level Tennis Coach
In sports, as in life, when one door closes, another often opens. The doors to the YMCA racquetball courts were closed to eight-year-old Bobby Banck with the implementation of an over-16 age rule in 1972, leaving him without a place to play. Bobby’s father Eddie, a local handball and racquetball legend, placed a tennis racquet in his son’s hand, and the young Banck began a rise in that kindred sport that would place him among the ranks of the greatest junior players that Western New York has ever seen.
Under the guidance of standout coach Joe DiCarlo, Bobby advanced rapidly, and at age 12 won the New York State 12-and-under singles title, and the national doubles title with fellow Western New Yorker Jimmy Arias. That year, the whiz kids were feted as among the top four Western New York amateur athletes by the Buffalo Athletic Club. Two years later, Bobby captured the national 14-and-under hard court singles and doubles championships (for the second time), as well as the national clay court doubles title in the same bracket, attaining the top ranking in the East for his age bracket in the process. Bobby capped off a spectacular season with singles and doubles championships in the Independence Bowl Tournament in Shreveport, LA and a win in the Buffalo Tennis Center Men’s open singles Championships. He finished the year ranked No. 5 in the USA in singles and No. 1 in doubles in the junior bracket.
In 1980, Banck relocated to Bradenton, FL to train at the renowned Nick Bollitieri Tennis Academy. After two years at the University of Arkansas (on full scholarship), Bobby turned professional, and achieved a ranking in the top 200 players worldwide in singles competition.
Upon retirement as a player, Bobby accepted an offer to coach old friend Jimmy Arias. The position was a springboard to a coaching career which featured five players ranked in the top 10 in the world: Arias, Aaron Krickstein, Monica Seles, Mary Jo Fernandez, and Mary Pierce. In 1991, Banck assumed training and coaching duties for Justin Gimelstob, the top-ranked junior player in the United States. Bobby also coached the 1990 United States World Cup team.
Tennis has taken Bobby Banck on journeys around the world. Tonight, it brings him back to Buffalo, as he joins friend and former mate Jimmy Arias in the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.