Mention Ken Dill’s name around Delaware, and you’ll immediately get smile. Recognized as one of the top physical therapists in the area, he’s often worked with local tennis players and has become well known in the tennis community.
But it was his career as an athlete at the University of Delaware from that earned him an induction into the university’s prestigious athletic Hall of Fame.
“This is probably the highest honor I could receive in sports,” said Dill, who played tennis and basketball at Delaware from 1978-82. “It means a lot to me to be recognized and in such great company of other athletes.”
In his time at Delaware, Dill had a 51-14 singles record. He was a two-time MVP and captained the team his senior year. He remains the only tennis player in school history to win three conference titles.
Still, Dill considered himself a basketball player who really only played tennis for fun.
“I didn’t play tennis until high school,” Dill said. “The footwork was so similar to basketball that I was able to immediately do well at tennis. I was the ultimate serve and volley player. I had three shots, the serve, backhand volley and overhead. Everything in my game revolved around setting up those three shots. I was good enough at the baseline that I could keep myself in games until I could get to one of those shots. I learned to win because I forced people to play to my style.”
Dill’s athletic prowess has transitioned into his post-college career as a physical therapist. Being a two-sport athlete, one of his most popular pieces of advice is to cross train.
The conversation of early specialization is common when referring to children. But for Dill, on some level, single sport specialization isn’t something anyone should do.
“I have this conversation almost daily with my patients,” Dill said. “Tennis is an activity. Any sport is an activity. It’s not exercise. Exercise is important to playing tennis well and being injury free. Repetition in anything increases probability of injury. People who only play tennis can increase their chance of injury because they’re not preparing their body properly.”
The head coach of the varsity girls tennis team at Wilmington Friends School, Dill is often found taking his patients out to a tennis court to correct their technique and decrease the potential for injury.
“For kids, the different footwork, hand-eye coordination and movement patterns from different sports aid each other and creates more athletic and well-rounded athletes,” Dill said.
Dill still competes as much as he can in both tennis and basketball. He has been competing in the National 45 & Over Grass Court Championships for the past nine years and has had good success in both singles and doubles. With his busy work schedule, the occasional tournament is as much as he can fit in, but he still manages to compete at a high level.