Missouri Valley / Kansas

Keeshan Helps Topeka Tennis Shine

Kendra Wicks | August 27, 2020

2020 is the 100th anniversary of the USTA Missouri Valley, and to celebrate, the section is recognizing 100 outstanding members of our local tennis communities. In August, we are recognizing Bob Keeshan, a long-time player and advocate for the tennis community, most notably through the Topeka Tennis Association.


Keeshan’s tennis career is made up of many years playing USTA tournaments and leagues, as well as serving on the board for the Topeka Tennis Association for over 40 years.


Although he has always been active, Keeshan didn’t pick up a tennis racquet until college when he began learning to play with friends. The habit stuck through law school and after graduating he started playing local summer tournaments and leagues.


It was actually a bad experience with a tournament, though, that jumpstarted Keeshan’s decades long involvement with the Topeka Tennis Association.


“I was playing at the Washburn University courts in a long three set, no tiebreaker match and missed the next scheduled match at Hughes Park tennis courts and was disqualified,” Keeshan said. “I thought there had to be a better system of communicating and organizing tournaments. A friend on the TTA board placed me on the board and I haven’t left since.”


In 1980, the TTA began building Kossover Tennis Center, an 18-court facility that serves as a main hot-spot for the city’s tennis community. The original space consisted of only nine courts, and over the years, the TTA has raised money to add new courts, install stadium lights and build a re-modeled clubhouse. Kossover is currently managed by the TTA and Genesis Wood Valley to provide tennis pros for lessons, run tournaments and host USTA events.


“It has been rewarding to see the progress a dedicated group of volunteers can bring to a nice complex,” Keeshan said. “Kossover has been very successful and has won several USTA sectional awards.”


During his time with the TTA, Keeshan was involved in the decision to move Topeka from USTA Heart of America to USTA Kansas. From there, he served as the USTA Kansas president for two years.


As he became more involved with USTA, Keeshan found that league play was just what he needed to fit competitive tennis into his schedule.


“When practicing law, tennis is a great stress reliever. With three children, a set schedule was much more advantageous than tournaments, so I started playing USTA leagues in 1992,” Keeshan said. “Probably my biggest tennis league achievement was playing on the 2000 50 & Over 4.5 team which won a national championship by winning 7 of 9 tiebreakers. We defeated a Texas team which had won the year before and a Middle Atlantic team which had won two years before.”


Despite his successes through leagues, both as a player and a captain (he served as a “good luck charm” for many of these teams, sending nine of them to nationals), Keeshan says his greatest tennis memories come from making friends and seeing his kids play the game.


In 2018, Keeshan suffered a career-ending injury on the court. “I was playing tennis and simultaneously ruptured both quadriceps tendons. I was a hospitalized for five days, and then in rehabilitation facilities for over two months,” Keeshan said. “The presiding doctor said I was the healthiest person there and my surgeon claimed I was the functional equivalent of a paraplegic who couldn’t move either leg. Both were true.”


Since then, Keeshan has encountered further struggles with the tendons in his left leg, even undergoing a second surgery. He is officially retired from play, but continues to support the Topeka tennis community.


“I do miss tennis, but I am grateful for former teammates who let me be involved by setting league lineups. My team members do observe that the team does better without me playing, anyway,” Keeshan said. “Now I watch tennis, especially my grandchildren. My oldest grandson, now 19, is a former high school tennis player and my 14-year-old granddaughter just starting high school tennis.”


Scott Howes, USTA Missouri Valley Adult Play Manager, nominated Keeshan for the Gold Star Award because of his lifelong commitment to providing tennis to the Kansas tennis community.


"Bob has always seemed to go beyond the call of duty to help develop unique and creative ways to promote tennis in his community and throughout USTA Kansas,” Howes said. “His tennis experience, dedication, and expertise provide important and valuable resources to help grow the game at all levels."


We are proud to recognize Keeshan with a Gold Star award. You can check out the official list of section winners here.

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