Becker Hangs Up Racquets, Picks Up Books
After 12 years competing on the ATP World Tour, former World No. 35 Benjamin Becker has decided to officially retire and return to school at Baylor University to complete his final semester of studies before graduating this coming spring.
“I had in my mind that I was going to stop this year anyway,” Becker said. “With my [hip] injury that happened in October [Vienna], I wasn’t really able to do any pre-season this year. Just kind of wasn’t able to prepare the way I wanted to... at Wimbledon I knew I wasn’t going to make US Open qualies and since I knew I wanted to stop at the end of the year anyway, I felt like it was a good time to do it then.”
After losing in the second round of qualifying at Wimbledon, the German did not completely rule out finishing the season. But after sitting down with the important people in his life a little over a month later, he eventually decided to commit to return to Baylor to complete his studies.
Becker is finishing his bachelor’s degree in management while working with his college’s men’s tennis team as a student volunteer coach. In 2004, as a player, Becker helped Baylor win its first national team championship while also winning the NCAA singles title that year.
“It’s great. The guys are very talented. They’re very eager to work,” Becker said. “I always knew I was going to enjoy it, but it’s actually been more enjoyable and I actually do more right now than I’m asked to do. So yeah, it’s been good.”
Becker has been busy taking 16 credits worth of courses this semester while working with the team and driving from Waco, Texas, to his home just north of Dallas on weekends to be with his wife and two sons. So while he hasn’t had much time to reflect on his career, Becker is certainly proud of what he accomplished.
“I guess I’m most proud that out of my 12 years, I think I was Top 100 10 times, maybe,” said Becker, who in fact spent at least part of 11 years in the Top 100. “That was always my ultimate goal, being Top 100 and being able to play the big tournaments. And to be able to do this on a pretty consistent basis and have myself always there in the elite 100 is something that I’m very proud of and that I was able to play that long.”
Becker was also very proud that he was able to break into the Top 40 on three separate occasions (2007, 2009, 2014), which included a gap of five years, showing his resiliency despite two elbow surgeries in 2011 that kept him out for nearly seven months.
“I feel like you can make it once after having a good year, but to make it there three times is also something that I value pretty highly,” Becker said. “Especially when I had a few years in between, if it just was injury or something that held me back. But to fight my way back to Top 40 three times I think was something that is pretty special.”
The German also reached his career-high Emirates ATP Ranking of World No. 35 when he was 33 years old, nearly eight years after cracking the Top 50 for the first time. Becker won his lone ATP World Tour title in 2009 at the Ricoh Open in s-Hertogenbosch as a qualifier, defeating two of the top four seeds en route to the victory. He also reached two other finals during his career.
“On any day you can have a great day and beat somebody but to do it over the whole course of a week...it’s something very special,” Becker said. “I’m very glad I took one of those chances and have that title to have that memory of being the only guy left in singles, I was undefeated. That’s something only a few people get to experience.”
Becker has not decided what will be next for him after graduation, but said he is in a ‘testing period,’ which he will continue to evaluate over the next few months. But for now, you can find him helping out at two charity events over the next two weekends — including one run by NBA star Dirk Nowitzki Saturday — on the court with the Baylor team, and in the classroom.