Middle States

Dick Blakinger
A Growing Legend



February 28, 2019

A Growing Legend


A Growing Legend

Dick Blakinger knows tennis is timeless. The 96-year-old continues to prove it to others.

“It’s hard to think of sports that you can do all your life,” he said. “For me, that’s been tennis.”

Blakinger, who has lived in Lancaster, Pa since 1950, credits a lot to the game. Tennis has helped him control his diabetes and stay in shape. It’s resulted in countless friendships.

The journey of Blakinger’s life has been an incredible one. How he found his way to tennis, and became a standout player, is also incredible.

Blakinger grew up in suburban Illinois during the Great Depression. He got his hands on a tennis racquet as a young boy, and would watch people hit balls at the local tennis courts.

“I would see how they hit the ball, and I tried to emulate them,” he said. “Pretty soon, I had a good forehand.”

Blakinger and his family couldn’t afford tennis lessons, but he loved the game. ADVERTISEMENT He was the team captain during his high school years and continued to play at Iowa’s Cornell College. That was, until he enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War II.

Blakinger was stationed at points in the Philippines, then off the coast of New Guinea. He flew in 21 missions in the Pacific-Asian theatre before the war ended and he made his way to Washington, D.C. 

Blakinger moved to Lancaster in 1950 to serve as General Council of Hamilton Watch Company.  In the following 20 years, he held various executive positions becoming president in 1967.  In 1970, he left Hamilton Watch Company and began his own law firm. 

“That’s when I began playing tennis again,” he said.


Since then, Blakinger has spent his time between tennis and squash, reaching high levels in both sports. When his kids were grown and out of the house, he began competing in USTA Tournaments. This led to him to achieving No. 1 rankings in the Middle States Central Pennsylvania District seven times, and top-five rankings in Middle States on several other occasions. Blakinger also earned six national rankings in singles, and in 2002, was top-three in the nation in the 80-and-over age group.

Outside of competition, Blakinger has found other ways to make his impact felt. He became involved with Lancaster-based NJTL Tennis Central in the early 2000s, endowing a scholarship for local junior players.

Delaine Mast, the Executive Director of Tennis Central, said Blakinger has become a local inspiration.

“He’s an incredible man with an amazing story,” she said. “He’s meant a lot to our community and our kids. They see that tennis is a game for a lifetime and that the sport can be a part of them through their entire lives.”

“I still play singles on Mondays and doubles on Tuesdays,” he said. “I hope I don’t need to stop any time soon. I’ve made some good friends and had a lot of fun.”


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