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American Tennis Association (ATA) Anniversary - 103 Years Of Black Tennis History!

Saturday, November 30, 2019

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BLACK TENNIS HISTORY: Remembering Oscar Johnson - Bob Davis' 1995 Interview Parts I, II, and III

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Untitled from Bob Davis on Vimeo.

Untitled from Bob Davis on Vimeo.

Untitled from Bob Davis on Vimeo.

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BLACK TENNIS HISTORY: Pioneer, Legend and Hall of Famer Oscar Johnson Has Passed

Black Tennis History is sad to announce the passing of Hall of Fame Oscar Johnson. Oscar was inducted into the Black Tennis Hall of Fame in 2010. We were fortunate to conduct a video interview with Oscar, which you can view on www.blacktennishistory.com. A great champion, a wonderful man, a pioneer who opened the door for the thousands who followed. He will be missed!

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BLACK TENNIS HISTORY: The Black Tennis Hall Of Fame

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Mission Statement

The Black Tennis Hall of Fame is a non-profit, privately funded organization dedicated to preserving the history of African American tennis and honoring those who made exemplary contributions to the sport, with special consideration extended to those who overcame racial barriers.

Dr. Dale G. Caldwell, Founder

The Black Tennis Hall of Fame (BTHOF) was founded by
Dr. Dale G. Caldwell. He is the Founder and CEO of Strategic Influence, LLC and the creator of the “Intelligent Influence” framework for individual and organizational success. Dr. Caldwell graduated from Princeton University with a degree in Economics; received an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania; and, earned an Ed.D. in Education Administration from Seton Hall University. He has served on the Board of Directors of the United States Tennis Association (USTA), and as the USTA’s liaison to the American Tennis Association (ATA). He is a visionary that is determined to help the ATA return to its former status and to generate renewed interest in tennis in urban communities across America and elsewhere.

The BTHOF honors individuals who have broken through the barriers of race and class to achieve success in the wonderful sport of tennis.

Robert Davis, Executive Director
Tennis has become the world’s second most popular sport largely because of the geographic, cultural, stylistic and racial diversity of its professionals. The sport has developed passionate fans of different backgrounds because of this diversity. Unfortunately, diversity was not always encouraged by the sport’s leadership. Most people are familiar with the tennis and life successes of Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe. However, because of racial discrimination in tennis and America, few people know the incredible story of the many talented players who were not allowed to compete in major tennis tournaments because of their race.

 For over fifty years prior to Gibson’s victories, blacks had been competing in club and regional tournaments. Banned from entering segregated events, African American tennis enthusiasts in 1916 formed their own organization, the ATA, to provide blacks with the opportunity to play competitive tennis on a national level. Their struggle to gain equal access to tennis paralleled the struggle of all blacks to gain equal access to American society.

Presiding over the BTHOF is one of its own inductees, Mr. Robert Davis. If not for Davis, much of the early history of blacks in tennis (Black Tennis History) might have been lost. He has been relentless is preserving the history and the photos of the men and women who played the sport ... and fought for that right. And maybe the BTHOF might not be where it is today if not for the nurturing by Davis, who now serves as executive director. In this capacity, he has managed the day-to-day operations of this organization dedicated to recording and promoting tennis history. However, Davis could certainly play the game. He was a two-time ATA national champion and winner of numerous other titles. But it is what he has done in the background that has made the biggest impact. In more than 40 years dealing in the business end of the sport, Davis has a long history of working with children to provide guidance and opportunity in the game of tennis. He helped create, and served as National Program Director for the Ashe/Bollettieri “Cities” Tennis Program. A driving force of the program, and what later became known as the Arthur Ashe Safe Passage Foundation, Davis was instrumental in introducing more than 20,000 inner city children to tennis.

The Black Tennis Hall of Fame (BTHOF) was founded to honor the achievements of those individuals who achieved success in tennis and life in spite of the many barriers that they faced, as well as those who helped them achieve those successes. We honor these individuals by permanently inducting them into the Black Tennis Hall of Fame.


Black Tennis History
The Herald Tribune

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BLACK TENNIS HISTORY: The American Tennis Association (ATA)

Friday, February 1, 2019

Dr. Walter R. (Whirlwind) Johnson
Coach of Althea Gibson, Arthur Ashe and many others.
Tennis has its origins in the medieval era, but the modern form of lawn tennis was patented in 1874 by Walter C. Wingfield in Great Britain. The first Wimbledon tournament was played in 1877. The first tennis court in the U.S. was built in 1876, and the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association was formed in 1881. International competition began in 1900 with the first Davis Cup tournament between the U.S. and Great Britain.

African-American universities, including Tuskegee and Howard, offered tennis to students from the 1890s. Beginning in 1898 at Philadelphia’s Chautauqua Tennis Club, African-American tennis players from the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast competed in invitational tournaments. When the USLTA issued a policy statement formally barring African-American tennis players from its competitions, the Association Tennis Club of Washington, DC, and the Monumental Tennis Club of Baltimore, Maryland, conceived the idea of the American Tennis Association (ATA).

Tally Holmes
First ATA Singles Champion,1917
The ATA was born when representatives from more than a dozen black tennis clubs met in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 30, 1916, Thanksgiving Day. Dr. Harry S. McCard, Dr. William H. Wright, Dr. B.M. Rhetta, Ralph Cook, Henry Freeman, and Tally Holmes were among the ATA’s founding fathers. Holmes, of Washington, D.C., won the first two ATA men’s singles titles.

In August 1917, the organization held its first ATA National Championships, consisting of three events (men’s and women’s singles and men’s doubles), at Baltimore’s Druid Hill Park in August 1917.

Knowing that large groups of blacks would not be accommodated at most hotels, especially in the south, the early ATA National Championships were held at various Historically Black Colleges and Universities, including Hampton Institute (now Hampton University), Morehouse College, Central State and Lincoln University. These black campuses provided tennis courts and sufficient housing space. The college administrators were delighted to have so many prosperous and potential donors, affiliated with their campuses. The ATA national soon became one of the most anticipated social events of the year in the black community. Formal dances, fashion shows and other activities were planned during the week of play.

The wall of segregation in tennis began to crumble when white player, Don Budge, who became the first American to win the “grand slam” of tennis (French Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open, and Australian Open) in 1938, competed at the ATA-affiliated Cosmopolitan Tennis Club in New York City on July 29, 1940. Budge played and won a singles match against Jimmy McDaniel, the ATA champion. He then paired in doubles with Dr. Weir against McDaniel and Richard Cohen. Weir again made history in 1948 when he competed in New York at the U.S. Indoor Lawn Tennis Championship.

Dr. Reginald Weir
First Black Man to compete in National USLTA Event
The USLTA color line was finally broken with prodding from within the association by Alice Marble and Edward Niles and from outside by the ATA. Dr. Robert Walter Johnson, Dr. Hubert Eaton and Bertram Baker were among the ATA officials were the key force behind negotiations that in 1950 led to the United States Lawn Tennis Association’s acceptance of Althea Gibson’s application to become the first Black to ever compete in the U.S. National Championship at Forest Hills.

During her first match a bolt of lightning struck and knocked a concrete eagle off the top of the stadium. Gibson thought, “It may have been an omen that times were changing.” Two years later, Reginald Weir and George Stewart would be the first African-American men to play at the U.S. Open at Forest Lawn, on August 29, 1952.

Between 1956 and 1958, Althea Gibson was the world’s dominant woman player. She won on clay at the French Open in 1956, as well as the All-England Lawn Tennis Women’s Single’s championship in 1957 and 1958 and the U.S. Open in both 1957 and 1958. She was also a finalist in the 1957 Australian Open.

Henry Freeman (L), Tally Holmes (R)
In subsequent years, Mr. Baker, ATA Executive Secretary from 1936 – 1966, hammered out an arrangement that enabled ATA champions to obtain a wild card entry into the prestigious event.
Dr. Walter Johnson was credited with founding the first formalized ATA Junior Development program designed to train talented young African American players at his home in Lynchburg, VA. Each summer, a group of the most talented minority youth from across the country would gather at his home to train and play tournaments. One of those outstanding players was Arthur Ashe. Dr. Johnson immediately recognized Ashe as the next equivalent to Althea Gibson. Ashe’s quiet and cool demeanor allowed him to stay focused on the game and not be distracted by insults, bad calls, cheating and verbal abuse.

​Ashe’s success as a Davis Cup player and his U.S. Open and Wimbledon titles are legendary. But, his recognition at tennis became the tool that he would use to challenge society to end the racial injustice that plagued the planet. He made several trips to South Africa (against the wishes of many Black leaders in America) to pressure the government to end apartheid. He marched on Washington in support of the fair treatment of Haitian refugees. His life was dedicated to the elevation of his people. He focused a great deal of his attention on education. He encouraged youngsters to become doctors and lawyers. He wanted youngsters to attend and graduate from college instead of putting all of their energy into athletics.

The ATA has produced several of the world’s top players and coaches. Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe, the first African Americans to be ranked No. 1 and to win Grand Slam titles, were sponsored and groomed by ATA officials and coaches.

Most African American professional tennis players were trained by ATA Clubs and played ATA Tournaments before turning pro. The list includes such greats as Zina Garrison, Leslie Allen, Lori McNeil, Chandra Rubin, Katrina Adams, and Mali Vai Washington to name of few.

Today the ATA continues its rich history of developing young tennis players and providing ATA members with the opportunity to compete in our National Championships. Plans are underway to develop a permanent home for the ATA that will serve as a National Training Facility and will house the ATA Tennis Hall of Fame.

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BLACK TENNIS HISTORY: "The Definitive Word On The History Of Blacks In Tennis"

Saturday, June 18, 2011

This photo is the property of the website "Black Tennis History," do not duplicate without permission

"Black Tennis History," is a new website that I am extremely pleased to have the opportunity to share with you. If you are not yet aware of this site, I guarantee that your first visit will enlighten, educate and enrich your knowledge of the history of Blacks in tennis unlike it has been before.

From the website:

"This website chronicles the introduction of Blacks to tennis in 1890 and the creation of the governing body of Black Tennis, the American Tennis Association, which was established in 1916.

The history of Blacks in tennis is a rich and inspiring legacy that must be preserved. It chronicles the emergence of an elite black middle class a mere 40 years after slavery was abolished. This middle class spawned an organization (the American Tennis Association) in 1916 and in less than 50 years, produced 2 world champions in a sport previously unavailable to Blacks. This is one of the most remarkable feats in human history and should be illuminated as a beacon for all people to emulate.”

You will also be able to visit with the standout performers who have been inducted into the Black Tennis Hall of Fame, an organization created by Dale Caldwell, a New Jersey businessman. You can view rare photographs and playing histories of these individuals, including Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe.

Why is this important? Because, until the lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter! African Proverb."

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