American Tennis Association

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Not to be confused with United States Tennis Association.

The American Tennis Association (ATA) is based in Largo, Maryland, suburban Washington, D.C. and is the oldest African-American sports organization in the United States.[1] The core of the ATA's modern mission continues to be promoting tennis as a sport for black people and developing junior tennis players, but the ATA welcomes people of all backgrounds.


By the early 1890s, despite the association of tennis with upper-class whites, the sport began to take hold among athletes at black colleges and universities, such as the Tuskeegee Institute and Howard University, as well as black tennis clubs around the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. areas. In response to the USTA bans on black players in their tournaments, a group of African-American businessmen, college professors, and physicians founded the ATA in Washington on November 30, 1916. Their initial mission statement began to build the infrastructure for black tennis tournaments, to unite black players and fans, and promote the game within African-American communities. Early tournaments hosted by the ATA saw such popular black players as Margaret Peters, Roumania Peters, James Trouman, and Emanuel McDuffle.[2] The first ATA National Championships were held the following August at Druid Hill Park in Baltimore, with competitions in men's singles, women's singles, and men's doubles.[3]

The ATA partnered with prominent black colleges and universities to host their tournaments. This ensured that the tournaments could provide the court time and housing for players and officials, particularly in the Jim Crow South. The facilities for banquet halls and large spaces further allowed the players to organize in other ways politically, and provided a high-profile event for the universities to cultivate donors.[4]

The ATA Today[edit]

Since 2013, the ATA has been negotiating with the city of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and Broward County to build a national training center and home for the Black Tennis Hall of Fame. The city and county were selected due to the preeminence of Sistrunk Boulevard, a historically black neighborhood. The interior of the Hall of Fame is slated to be designed by Grand Slam Champion[5]

See also[edit]


Novotny Lawrence (2014). From Compton to Center Court: Venus and Serena and the Black Female Experience in Professional Tennis. In Documenting the Black Experience: Essays on African American History, Culture, and Identity in Nonfiction Films, ed. Novotny Lawrence. ISBN 978-1-4766-1963-7

External links[edit]