At an age when many high-level tennis players are slowing down, Vicki Buholz is just getting started.
She’s not new to the sport, having taught lessons at T Bar M Racquet Club in Dallas for more than 30 years. But the past few years have seen Buholz find international success as a player on the senior circuit.
This summer, Buholz competed for Team USA in the ITF Senior Team World Championships for the third time in the past four years. She won a silver medal at the tournament in Finland.
“I want to be able to relate to my players. I know what they go through,” said Buholz, who lives in Highland Park. “I love competing and meeting new people. I like challenges. It’s an honor because you’re representing the United States and playing for your country.”
Perhaps her success shouldn’t be a surprise considering her background. Buholz used to run marathons — including Boston twice — and her father, Vic Vasicek, was a pro football player for the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams in the early 1950s.
Buholz played in national youth tennis tournaments growing up and eventually starred for four years at SMU. The Midland native stayed with the Mustangs for an extra year to help coach, and landed a job assisting with summer programs at T Bar M, where she’s been ever since.
As for her playing career, Buholz scaled back her tournament play significantly after she got married and had two children, but now her entire family is involved in the sport: her husband participates in a weekly league, and both kids played in high school and college.
In 2012, Buholz won a trophy in doubles in her first senior tournament at the prestigious West Side Tennis Center in New York.
“We beat some pretty good players,” she said. “I didn’t have a lot of match play, and that’s what makes you tough.”
After that, Buholz started playing against some junior players and some men as she ramped up her training. She made the U.S. senior national team in 2013 and traveled to Turkey, where she played doubles with Rosalyn Fairbank Nideffer, a former French Open champion from South Africa. She qualified for worlds again in 2014 in Florida, but missed last year’s tournament due to an injury.
Buholz, 55, isn’t sure how much longer she will play at a high level, but doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.
“I want to be a world champion one day,” Buholz said. “It’s an outlet for me. I won’t be able to do it forever, but I think it’s going to be something I do into my old age.”