Friday, April 20, 2018

More Tennis History

By 1921, Dwight Davis or the donor of the Davis Cup was the umpire at the ATA national semifinals. In that same year, the first black owned and operated country club existed in America. It was founded by the Progressive Realty Group. These were a group of African American businessmen. They purchased and opened the Shady Rest Golf and Tennis Club at Scotch Plains, New Jersey. The Springfield, Massachusetts Tennis Club and the New Jersey Tennis Association was formed in 1922. By 1925, the New England Tennis Association and St. Louis Tennis Association were formed. Reginald Weir and Gerald Norman Jr. were denied entry into the U.S. Law Tennis Association (USLTA) Junior Indoor Championship because of their race, even after paying the entry free. The NAACP supported them in 1929 which resulted in a formal grievance after Norman’s father filed a complaint. The University of Illinois tennis player Douglas Turner is the runner up in the Big Ten championships in 1929 too. In 1930, the Colored Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) and the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA) received the Williams Trophy after it was donated by members of the Grand Central Station staff. Jimmie McDaniels played in the New York State Negro Tennis Championships in 1940. By 1941, on the anniversary of the ATA’s Silver Jubilee, USLTA president Holcombe Ward extended his warmest regards to the organization without allowing a single person of color to participate in his league. In the letter, he stated, “I extend most cordial greetings and sincere wishes for the success of the American Tennis Association in its further development, work and efforts to maintain the high standards of the game of tennis wherever played.” In 1950, Althea Gibson became the first African American to participate in the U.S. Nationals. In the first round, she defeated Barbara Knapp, but would then fall to Louise Brough in the second round, 1-6, 6-3, 7-9. Before a thunderstorm descended on the court, Gibson was actually beating Brough. When the players came back the next day, Gibson lost three straight games and the match. Victor Miller and Roosevelt Megginson were the first African Americans to play in the USLTA Interscholastic Championships. Lorraine Williams won the USLTA National Girls’ 15 Singles to become the first African American to win a USLTA national championship in 1953. By 1956, Althea Gibson won the French Championship women’s singles tournament. She was the first African American to win a Grand Slam title. She left the French Championship with the women’s doubles title. Gibson’s victories and success continued into the women’s doubles final at Wimbledon too. She left London victorious too.

In 1957, Althea Gibson was the first black woman to win a major U.S. tennis championship. She defeated Darlene Hard in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3, to capture the U.S. Clay Court singles title in River Forest, Illinois. The match was only about 47 minutes. Later on in that year, Gibson won the U.S. National Championships (now known as the U.S. Open) becoming the first African American to do so. Gibson was also the first African American to play in the Australian Open championship. She lost to Shirley Fry in straight sets. This was the only Grand Slam championship she would not win in singles. However, Gibson would win the Australian Open women’s doubles championship in 1957. Gibson lost the U.S. National Championships women’s doubles championship. That was the only doubles Grand Slam title she didn’t win. She won the mixed doubles championship. For her wins in the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. National Championships, Althea Gibson was named the Associated Press Woman Athlete of the Year. In 1958, Althea Gibson repeated as both U.S. National and Wimbledon champion. For a third consecutive year, Gibson won the women’s doubles title match at Wimbledon. She repeated as the AP Woman Athlete of the Year. It was during this year that she also announced her retirement from amateur tennis.

By 1959, Bob Ryland broke the color barrier for black men as participating in Jack Marsh’s World Pro Championship in Cleveland. He was the first African American man tennis professional. Arthur Ashe Jr. won the National Indoor Junior Tennis Championship in 1960. Next year in 1961, he repeated as the National Indoor Junior Tennis champion and he also won the USTA Interscholastic Singles Championship. Arthur Ashe was the first African American in the Davis Cup by 1963. He won the U.S. Hard Court Championships. Lenward Simpson was the youngest male to play at the U.S. Nationals at Forest Hills, New York at 15 years old. Arthur Ashe comes into UCLA by 1965. He won the NCAA singles championship and doubles championship with Ian Crookenden. Arthur Ashe Jr. took home the U.S. Clay Court Championship and the U.S. Indoor Doubles with teammate Charlie Pasarell in 1967. By 1968, Arthur Ashe Jr. was the first and only black man to win the U.S. Open. It was the first Open in the Open era. He defeated Davis Cup teammate Bob Lutz to win the U.S. Amateur Championship. To this day, he is the only player to win the amateur and national championships in the same year.

In 1970, Arthur Ashe Jr. became the first and only black man to win the Australian Open. Juan Farrow won the U.S. Boys’ 12 Singles Championship and also won the doubles title with the teammate Lawrence Hooper. In 1971, Arthur Ashe Jr. teamed up with Marty Riessen to win the French Open men’s doubles title. In that year, Althea Gibson is elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Juan Farrow in 1972 won his second championship in the U.S. Boys’ 14 Singles. Diane Morrison in the same year won the National Public Parks Girls 16U Singles Championship. In 1973, Juan Farrow won the National Boys Indoor 16 Singles Championship. Lenward Simpson in 1974 signed with the Detroit Loves and was in the process of the first black player in World Team Tennis. Arthur Ashe Jr. won the Wimbledon men’s singles title by defeating Jimmy Connors in 1975. He was the first and only black man to win the event.  Bruce Foxworth and Roger Guedes won the NCAA Division II doubles. They were from Hampton University. Hampton was the first historically black college or university to win the Division II title. Andrea Whitmore in 1978 won the National Parks singles, doubles, and mixed doubles titles. She was the first African American to win a championship and the second only woman to win three major events in the tournament’s 52 year history. In that same year, the Girls 14 Indoor Doubles was won by Kathy Foxworth and Lori Kosten. In 1980, Leslie Allen was the first African American woman to play in the main draw of a professional tournament in Open era history. In the same year, the U.S. Girls 16 Hard Court Doubles, U.S. Girls 18 Indoor Doubles, and the U.S. Girls 18 Clay Court Doubles are won by Houston duo Zina Garrison and Lori McNeil. Leslie Allen won the Avon Championships of Detroit in 1981. She was the first black woman since Althea Gibson to win a major title. Yannick Noah in 1983 became the first black man to win the French Open when he defeated defending champion Mats Wilander, 6-2, 7-5, 7-6. He was 23 years old back then. He was the first Frenchman to win the French Open singles championship since 1946. He was the last Frenchman to win that event. That victory was his first and last Grand Slam singles title. In 1984, many events come about. Camille Benjamin made it to the French Open semifinals. Lloyd Bourne (who was a tow time All-American at Stanford) reached the round of 16 at the Australian Open. Todd Nelson made it to the round of 32 of the U.S. Open. Pepperdine University’s Jerome Jones and Kelly Jones (no relation) won the NCAA’s doubles championship.

Lori McNeil and Zina Garrison faced off in the Eckerd Tennis Open, which is the first time two black players meet in a major professional tennis championship in 1986. McNeil defeated Garrison, 2-6, 7-5, 6-2. Northwestern University’s Katrina Adams was the first African American woman to win a NCAA doubles title in 1987. She teamed up with Diane Donnelly to beat Stanford’s Patty Fendick and Stephanie Savides, 6-2, 6-4. In 1988, Zina Garrison and Pam Shriver won the Olympic gold medal for women’s doubles in Seoul, South Korea. Garrison also took home bronze in the women’s singles tournament. U.S. national team named MaliVai Washington to its team. By 1990, Zina Garrison defeated Monica Seles, ending her 36-match winning streak, and then stuns Steffi Graf in the Wimbledon semifinals to advance to her first Grand Slam championship. Garrison would go on to lose to Martina Navratilova in the title bout, but by playing in the championship, Garrison becomes the first black woman to reach a Grand Slam final since Althea Gibson in 1958. Mashona Washington won the USTA National Indoor 18 Singles by 1992. MaliVai Washington reached the Wimbledon singles final in 1996. He falls to the Dutchman Richard Krajicek in straight sets. Washington was the first black man to reach the title game since Arthur Ashe Jr. During the year of 1996 also, he is named to the U.S. Olympic tennis team. He was the first African American to receive that honor. Chanda Rubin and partner Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario win the Australian Open doubles title in 1996, and Rubin fights her way to the semifinals of the Australian Open, where she loses to eventual champion Monica Seles in three sets.

By Timothy

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