First Lobo Tennis All-American Jack Kennedy Passes Away at 85
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Jack Kennedy, the first Lobo Tennis All-American and a close and staunch supporter of the program for over 50 years, has passed away at the age of 85.
Last year, the Lobo Tennis program officially recognized Kennedy for his life-long dedication to the program as a player and supporter by naming the season-opening home tournament “The Jack Kennedy Classic.” This year’s Jack Kennedy Classic will feature New Mexico, Cal Poly and East Tennessee State and take place January 19-21.
Kennedy was UNM’s first men’s tennis All-American, earning the honor in 1958, and while the Lobo archives aren’t overly deep from the program’s days in the Skyline Conference, some of the accomplishments of Kennedy will most likely never be matched. His freshman season saw him never lose a match, going undefeated. He might have won the NCAA title that year if freshmen were allowed to play. Kennedy wasn’t, so on the advice and prompting of then Athletic Director Pete McDavid, Jack played in the 1957 Canadian Grass Court Circuit, winning a tournament up north.
UNM’s first four-year All-Conference honoree, he was named from 1957-60, winning the Skyline singles titles in 1957 and 1958, finishing runner-up in 1959 and making it to the semifinals in 1960.
In April of 2022, Kennedy and his wife Sue worked with Master Artist Kay Frances to present one-of-a-kind All-America rings to the first four Lobo Tennis All-Americans in Van Hill (1968), Tim Garcia (1976) and Tim Cass (1986), along with himself.
The rings were presented at a breakfast with the honorees, family members and dignitaries present.
After his playing career, Kennedy became a dentist, eventually retiring in 1998. In his retirement he spent time living between Albuquerque, the Coachella Valley in Palm Springs, and France. Kennedy grew up in Albuquerque (near the corner of Carlisle and Lomas) and picked up tennis after breaking his collar bone playing football.
Kennedy eventually won the Southwest Juniors Tournament, but while he received many opportunities to play tennis elsewhere, he stayed in Albuquerque to attend UNM, in part to stay with Susan, whom he would eventually marry. He and Susan were high school sweethearts from Highland High School and were married for 63 years.
Funeral arrangements are pending.