2011 Inductees

Player Category:

Ms. Isadore Channels (Izzy) – In the early 20th Century, the ATA National Championships was one of the most significant events in the African American community in the United States. People were so anxious to see the best Black tennis players they would travel from around the country (and parts of the Caribbean) to the site of the tournament each year. The winners of the men’s and women’s titles were national heroes. The first twelve years of the ATA Women’s Singles Championship was dominated by the following four Black tennis icons: Lucy Diggs Slowe (winner in 1917 and 1921), M. Rae (winner in 1918, 1919 and 1920), Lulu Ballard (winner in 1925, 1927 and 1928) and Channels who won the Championship in 1922, 1923, 1924 and 1926.

Channels was born in Louisville, Kentucky on February 1, 1900. In addition, to being an extraordinary tennis player she was also an outstanding basketball player. Channels became a legend in tennis in the Black community by becoming the first woman to win four ATA Championships. She also was an excellent doubles player who won the 1924 ATA Women’s Doubles Championship.

 

Isadore Channels in 1923


Ms. Flora Lomax-Bray – In 1938, Lomax won her first ATA Women’s Singles Championship. She would go on to win the Championship in 1939, 1941 and 1942. She was an outstanding doubles player who won the ATA Women’s Doubles Championship in 1942 and the ATA Mixed Doubles Championship in 1937 and 1940. She played during the “Golden Age” of Black tennis where history was being made by stars like Ora Washington, Jimmie McDaniel, Reginald Weir and the Peters Sisters.

Lomax is shown in the photo above with Jimmie McDaniel after winning the New York State Mixed Doubles title at the Cosmopolitan Tennis Club in August 1940. Lomax was a darling of the Black press who referred to her as the “glamour girl of tennis.” They commented on her “pretty white pleated tennis shorts” and socializing with Joe Louis and some of the most famous Black celebrities of the day. Lomax is still considered one of the most glamorous champions of women’s tennis.


Ms. Lulu Ballard – In 1936, Ballard made history by winning her tenth ATA Women’s Doubles Championship. She was an outstanding singles player who won the ATA Women’s Singles Championship in 1925, 1927, 1928 and 1936. However, she proved that she was one of the most talented women’s doubles players in history by winning the ATA Women’s Doubles Championship in 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1932, 1934, 1935 and 1936. In addition, she won the ATA Mixed Doubles Championship in 1938. In all likelihood, Ballard would have won many more ATA Singles Championships if she had not played during the time of the incredible Ora Washington. She won her second and third championship the year before Washington won her first championship and she won her last championship in 1936, the year between Washington’s seventh and eighth championships.   The photo at the right photo was taken at the Pennsylvania Championships in 1939 after her loss to Ora Washington.

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Ms. Lori McNeil – In 1994, McNeil shocked the tennis world and made history by beating the legendary Steffi Graf 7-5, 6-4 in the first round at Wimbledon. This was the first time in Grand Slam history that a defending champion lost in the first round. Incredibly, this was not the first time that McNeil had beaten Graf in the first round. In the 1992 WTA Tour of Champions, McNeil beat Graf 7-5, 7-6 (7-5). It was the first time since 1985 that Graf lost in the first round of a tournament.

McNeil played on the women’s professional tennis tour for 19 years and won a total of 10 singles titles and 33 doubles titles. She reached a career high ranking of number 9 in singles in 1988 and number 4 in doubles in 1987. McNeil never won a Grand Slam singles title. However, she won the 1988 French Open Mixed Doubles Championship with Jorge Lozano and reached the semi-finals of the 1987 US Open (after beating Chris Evert in the Quarterfinals). She also reached the semi-finals of the 1994 Wimbledon where she lost to eventual champion Conchita Martinez.

McNeil was an extremely talented junior player. In 1978, she won the ATA Girls 14 and 16 Singles Championships. McNeal won the ATA Girls 14 Doubles Championship with Zina Garrison in 1977 and 1978. In 1979, she won the ATA Girls 18 Singles Championship in addition to the US National Girls 18 Doubles Hard Court Championship with Garrison. McNeil won the US National 18 Doubles Indoor, Hard Court and Clay Court Championships with Garrison in 1980. In 1981, she teamed with Garrison once again to win the US National 18 Doubles Indoor and Hard Court Championships. McNeil is one of the most talented Black players in history. Her success on the court paved the way for players like Venus and Serena Williams.

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Here, Jewel Peterson accepts Lori’s induction Award and Trophy from BTHOF Executive Director Bob Davis and Founder Dale Caldwell.

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Contributor Category:

Dr. Robert M. Screen – In 1976, as the head coach of the Hampton University men’s tennis team, Dr. Screen made history by becoming the first African American tennis coach to win a NCAA national championship. That Hampton University team won the NCAA Division II National Championship. He coached the Hampton team to another NCAA Division II Championship in 1989. In addition, he led the Hampton team to 1,068 victories making him the all-time winningest coach in NCAA Division I history. In the photo, Dr. Screen accepts his induction certificate and trophy from Black Tennis Hall of Fame Executive Director, Bob Davis, and Founder Dale Caldwell.

From 1985 to 1994, the Hampton Pirates finished as the number 2 ranked tennis team in the NCAA Division II an amazing six times under Dr. Screen’s leadership. He also coached the men’s team to two Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCU) National Championships and three Virginia Collegiate Championships. His men tennis teams won seven Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) titles. Dr. Screen was also the successful coach of the Hampton women’s tennis team which won four MEAC titles.

In addition to being an excellent coach who led the tennis team for more than four decades, Dr. Screen was an extraordinary Chair of Hampton’s Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders which trained more African American speech pathologists than any other college in the country. He was a 1953 graduate of Hampton who was inducted into the Hampton University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009.

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Chairman’s Award:

Ernie Peterson – In 1968, Peterson began his tennis coaching career with the Boston Parkes and Recreation Department. He left that position to coach at the Franklin Field Tennis Center in the Dorchester Section of Boston. He played an instrumental role in helping to establish the legendary Sportsman’s Tennis Club as one of the most successful urban tennis programs in the United States. This program successfully kept students from poor households to stay off of the streets avoid crime and become productive citizens.

In 1976, Peterson founded the Peterson School of Tennis in the College Park, Georgia which expanded on his tremendous work in Boston. This program enhanced the lives of thousands of young people in the Atlanta area. After Peterson’s death on April 10, 2010, USTA Executive Director Gordon Smith stated “Ernie not only developed great players, he developed great human beings. Our thoughts and prayers are with Ernie’s family.” His daughter, Jewel, who was also a student, played on the WTA circuit and took over leadership of the School after his death.

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