The Bass on the Baseline

April 16, 2011 04:15 PM
Kenny Wahl in actoin at the 2010 USTA League 6.0 & 8.0 Super Senior National Championships.
By Kevin Wittner
SURPRISE, Ariz. – It is not uncommon for players at the USTA League Senior National Championships to report that they began playing tennis upon retirement.  Kenny Wahl, a player from Lorain, Ohio’s 6.0 Midwest men’s team has a different story.

When Wahl retired from a career in mechanical equipment sales 12 years ago, a friend convinced him to take up a passion he had practiced in high school and college: singing.

Today, as one of the members of the Golden Crescent Barbershop Chorus, Wahl sings as a bass as part of the chorus’ rich 50-plus year heritage.  Much like the method the USTA divides the country with its sections, Golden Crescent is part of the Barbershop Harmony Society’s Johnny Appleseed District which competes at national events at the Nashville, Tenn., headquarters.

When describing what he enjoys about singing barbershop, Wahl echoes the sentiments of many tennis players, "It’s a way to get out and relax, you are at ease and you meet a lot of nice people."

As for what makes a singing group successful, Wahl says, "You look for good sound, good blend.  You don’t have to be loud but if you have the blend it’s beautiful."

Apparently Golden Crescent has found that blend, because Wahl and his fellow singers have performed at public events, put on various shows and have sung the national anthem at baseball games.  In fact, one of chorus’ the quartets recently won the senior division national championship.

Wahl’s teammates have only good things to say about him – although they report he does not always share his talents.

"I’ve played with Kenny for a long time, and he plays his heart out and is a great guy," Ed Stevens said. "But he never wants to sing around us.  We try to get him to sing, but he does it only (with Golden Crescent).  I want him to sing with all of us."

Upon hearing this, Wahl – almost on cue – was baited into joining his team in singing "Sweet Adeline," a barbershop classic.

This weekend at his first USTA League National Championship, Wahl says there are both parallels and contrasts in tennis and singing.  "I like that they are different except that you can have the friendship and the teamwork in both," Wahl says.  "This weekend, I’m learning and meeting a lot of nice people. I’m here for enjoyment and just to play.  If I win fine, but if I don’t there is always tomorrow."

To hear Wahl and his Golden Crescent cohorts, click here to listen to clips of their performances.
Click here for more news & photos from the 2010 USTA League 6.0 & 8.0 Super Senior National Championships.