Now that we are officially in the 2012 holiday season, we couldn’t think of a better person to feature than our very own local jeweler Bill Bennion.
Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, Bill played for the University of Utah from 1969 -1973 on a team that ranked top 5 in the nation. In 1969, prior to his enrollment at the U, Bill, as the under 18 and under 20 Intermountain Champion, was invited to try out for the Jr. Davis Cup team, but fell just short of a spot.
Throughout his career at the U, he worked his way up in the starting line up, eventually playing as high as No. 2 singles in his junior and senior years. In 1972 Bill won the No. 2 WAC Singles and Doubles Championships, and repeated as the No. 2 Singles Champion in 1973. That same year, he made it to the 4th round of the NCAA Singles Championships, beating Tom Gullikson (former professional tennis player and US Davis Cup coach) in the third round.
Bill graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology, but never pursued his early dreams of going to medical school after his grades didn’t meet his expectations. Instead, Bill qualified for the main draw of the professional event in Provo, Utah after beating former Ute great Jim Osborne. In the main draw he beat Swedish Davis Cup player Tenny Svensson, but lost in the 2nd round to Vitas Gerulaitis (Australian Open Singles Champion 1977 and Wimbledon Doubles Champion 1975).
Since 1974 Bill owns the oldest jewelry store in the intermountain since 1862, Bennion Jewelers, and the company remains on Main Street, in downtown Salt Lake City until this day.
In 1989, he married his current wife Vicki and the couple has three sons (Derek, Steven and Alex) and have a dog named Maddie.
Question: Bill, thanks for being with us today. Story has it that you picked the U to get back with your brothers. Is this true?
Bennion: Yes, I chose the U so that my dad and my two older brothers wouldn’t beat the crap out of me anymore. All three played for the Utes as well.
Question: How did the University of Utah and your membership of the team affect your career?
Bennion: The U of U affected my career in a huge way. First of all, I received a great education and met friends for life. I traveled with the team, stayed at great hotels and we ate like kings! I always looked forward to practicing every day and enjoyed all of my team members, but it sucked to lose the team conference championship 3 years in a row by only 1 point!
Question: What is your most memorably moment as a Ute?
Bennion: There are so many memorable moments, but I most vividly remember making it to the 4th round of the NCAA Championships my senior year. If I would have won that match I would have been an All-American, but I lost 6-4, 6-2 in less than an hour.
Question: What is in store next for you?
Bennion: Right now I am trying to survive this tough business climate with our store, but I am really looking forward to retiring in about 10 years. I am trying to stay healthy and hope that I don’t have to replace my only good knee. I am still mountain biking and would love to get back into some social tennis.
Please feel free to visit Bill at his store, Bennion Jewelers, at 107 South Main Street in Salt Lake City, Utah.