By J. Fred Sidhu, special to USTA.com
Indian Wells, Calif. – Forty-eight-year-old Kirk Loomis of the USTA Missouri Valley men’s team arrived at the USTA League 5.0 Adult National Championships on a high note.
In 1985, Loomis was a fifth-year senior at Oklahoma State University where he was an All-American in tennis. That year he faced Rick Leach of USC numerous times, but always came up on the short end.
"He had just started playing college tennis and our paths crossed a number of times," Loomis said. "He’s a phenomenal player. We had a lot of close matches, especially in doubles, but I never really came out on top in any of those matches at that point."
After finishing at Oklahoma State, Loomis chose to pursue a career outside of tennis which led to his current position as a financial advisor with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.
Leech would go on to become the NCAA's first four-time Division I All-American singles and doubles player. After turning professional in 1987, Leach achieved the number one doubles ranking in the world and went on to win 40 career ATP Tour doubles titles in 13 years. He also represented the U.S. in Davis Cup play.
Through the years, Loomis played tennis off and on, but it was nothing serious until this year when he started playing competitive tennis again.
"This year I decided to have a little fun with it (tennis) and make a renewed effort to play some national events," said Loomis, who makes his home in Edmond, Oklahoma. "It was fun at this stage of the game to get back on the court. I’ve been enjoying a bit of a renaissance."
This last August, Loomis headed to Philadelphia where he played with Missouri Valley Section teammate Gary Trost in the USTA National Men's 45 Grass Court Championships at the Germantown Cricket Club.
After losing in the quarterfinals of the main draw, Loomis and Trost moved to the Consolation rounds, or what is referred to sometimes as the Back Draw.
Loomis and Trost faced Leach and Greg Washer of Laguna Beach, Calif. in the Consolation semifinals. It was the first time in 25 years that Loomis and Leach would face off. In a tightly-contested match, they defeated Leach and Washer, 5-7, 6-2, 10-6.
While Loomis was obviously happy with the result, he downplayed the match and expressed his respect and admiration for Leach.
"It was fun to play and good to be out there and competing. I enjoyed playing with him (Leach). He’s a true gentleman," Loomis said.
Despite the change in surfaces, playing in Philadelphia helped Loomis prepare for the USTA Nationals in Indian Wells.
"Playing in Philadelphia helped because I got a lot of match play in," Loomis said. "I feel like I’m hitting the ball well.
Even though he had played in Southern California many times before, this is the first time Loomis has played at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
"This is a wonderful facility. I can see why people like coming here. It’s been a well-run event. I’ve had a good time," he said.