2015 Hall of Fame Inductees

Arthur “Art” Carrington – In 1972, Carrington made history by participating in the first televised ATA Men’s Singles Championship match. He lost an incredibly close five set match to Horace Reid that was televised on Boston Public Television. Legendary broadcaster Bud Collins was the color commentator for that historic match. Carrington may have lost that match, however, he went on to win the ATA Men’s Singles Championship in 1973. He was an extremely talented player who was a frequent practice partner of Arthur Ashe. In addition, throughout Carrington’s professional tennis career, he competed against and/or practiced with legendary players Bjorn Borg, Vitas Gerulaitis, Rod Laver and other top professional tennis players at the time. In addition, he coached Vera Zvonareva who, under his tutelage became the number 2 women’s tennis player in the world.

Carrington was recruited to Hampton College (now Hampton University) because of his tennis skills and, in 1965, became the first student to receive a full athletic scholarship. In 1966, his freshman year, he lost in the finals of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Championship. However, he went on to win the CIAA Championship three years in a row. After graduating from Hampton in 1968, Carrington became the first head tennis pro hired at the Westfield Indoor Tennis Club in Westfield, New Jersey.

Carrington was a tennis legend on the tennis court because of his smooth tennis strokes. However, since retiring from professional tournament play, he has become one of the best known black tennis historians. His enthusiasm for black tennis history is contagious. He currently has the largest collection of “Negro Newspapers” covering the ATA National Championship. Carrington, also made history by co-curating, with Dale G. Caldwell, the International Tennis Hall of Fame (ITHF) touring exhibit on black tennis history called “Breaking the Barriers.” This exhibit, which includes an award winning film and debuted at the 2007 US Open where 35,000 people saw it, is the first major exhibit to chronicle the history of black tennis from the late 1800s to the 1970s. It has become the most successful touring exhibit in ITHF history. In 2009, Carrington published the book Black Tennis, An Archival Collection: 1890-1962. This popular book featured fascinating newspaper accounts of the ATA, tennis pioneers and black tennis clubs.

Carrington is currently the President of the New England Tennis Association (NETA). He runs the Carrington Tennis Academy based at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. Since founding the tennis camp in 1980, the academy has helped more than 2,000 students improve their tennis skills.

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Nick Bolletieri – In 1978, Bolletieri purchased a 23 acre tomato farm to start the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy. He has become a tennis legend by expanding on the high performance tennis camp model made popular by coaching legends like Harry Hopman and John Newcombe. In a relatively short period of time after the camp opened, he was able to convince some of the United States’ best junior players to come to the camp to compete against each other. Young players like Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Chip Hooper, Pete Sampras, Martin Blackman, Maria Sharapova, Monica Seles, Anna Kournikova and many others helped to make the camp the legendary success it has become. Over the years there have been a lot of high performance tennis camps. However, the Nick Bolletieri Tennis Academy is arguably the most successful of all time because it includes ten world number 1 players among its alumni. These players included Andre Agassi, Boris Becker, Jim Courier, Martina Hingis, Jelena Jankovic, Marcelo Rios, Monica Seles, Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams and Venus Williams. In addition, Bolletieri alumni and former professional player Martin Blackman is the Head of Player Development for the USTA.Establishing a world class tennis training camp was not enough for Bolletieri.

He had a personal passion for growing the game in nontraditional communities. In 1987, after meeting with Arthur Ashe to discuss the lack of black tennis players on the professional tennis circuit, he and Ashe decided to create the Ashe/Bollettieri “Cities” Tennis Program (ABC). This unique national tennis organization established well-run instructional programs in urban communities across the United States. The programs were operated in Albany, New York; Kansas City, Kansas; Kansas City, Missouri; Los Angeles, California; Newark, New Jersey; and, New York, New York. The program was later renamed the Arthur Ashe Safe Passage Foundation and ran for 13 years. During this time more than 20,000 students from urban communities were taught tennis, tutored and received health education. Many of those students have payed forward what they learned in this program and are teaching in or supporting urban tennis programs around the world. Bolletieri was inducted into the Tennis Industry Hall of Fame in 2012, the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) Hall of Fame in 2013 and the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2014. He was inducted into the Black Tennis Hall of Fame (BTHOF) in 2015 because of his legendary commitment to growing tennis in urban and black communities in the United States. He invested hundreds of thousands of dollars of his personal money and valuable time to ensure that this program was a success. Thanks to Ashe and Bolletieri’s efforts in this program, which was led by BTHOF executive director Bob Davis, tens of thousands of young people graduated from college, received college scholarships, became great tennis players and, most importantly, became productive citizens of the world.

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John Wilkerson – In 1971, Wilkerson won the ATA Men’s Singles Championship. This accomplishment was extremely impressive because he started playing late in his youth. Born in San Antonio, Texas, Wilkerson was a senior in high school when he first picked up a tennis racket. John’s brother and his friends played tennis on weekends and they frequently tried to convince him to come along. He refused to join them for many months. However, he fell in love with the sport the one day in 1957 that he decided to go with them to the tennis courts. The next week he tried out for his Wheatley High School tennis team and, because he was a natural athlete, beat all of the players on the team. Incredibly, Wilkerson went on to win district and state titles in singles and doubles that year. He was given a tennis scholarship to Prairie View A&M. However, he dropped out of school to join the US Army. He later attended Texas Southern University (TSU), and, in 1972, won the Southwest Athletic Conference (SWAC) Singles and Doubles Championship.

After graduating from TCU, Wilkerson became the Tennis Director at MacGregor Park in Houston, Texas and developed a passion for teaching young people about tennis and life. In 1977, he started coaching two 11 year olds named Zina Garrison (2009 BTHF Inductee) and Lori McNeil (2011 BTHF Inductee) at the MacGregor Park tennis courts in Houston, Texas. Wilkerson would coach these players throughout their tennis career and become one of the best known black coaches in pro tennis. Under his tutelage, these players would go on to become two of the best black professional tennis players in history.

In 1981, Garrison became the first African American to win the Wimbledon and US Open Junior Titles. That year she became the number one 18 year old player in the world. In her first tournament as a professional, the 1982 French Open, she had an amazing run to the quarterfinals where she was beaten by 2000 ITHF Inductee Martina Navratilova. On November 20, 1989, Garrison reached a career high singles ranking of number 4 in the world. She also reached a career high doubles ranking of number 5 on May 23, 1988. On July 4, 1988, McNeil reached a career high singles ranking of number 9 in the world. In addition, on November 9, 1987 she reached a career high doubles ranking of number 4 in the world.

Wilkerson is a board member of the Houston Tennis Association and is currently the Tennis Director for the Zina Garrison All Court Tennis Academy. In this role, he has helped more than 100 youth receive college scholarships. He was inducted into the Texas Tennis Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.

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Marcus Freeman – In 1977, Freeman made history by publishing Black Tennis Magazine (now called BT Magazine), the most successful black tennis magazine in history. This publication has covered many of the most important events and people in modern black tennis history. Freeman spent much of his career as a school teacher and administrator. However, late in his career, Freeman became the Head Tennis Pro and Manager of the Kierst Tennis Center in Dallas, Texas. When asked what prompted him to publish Black Tennis Magazine, Freeman stated “one major tournament in the state of Texas was won by a couple of black youngsters who were victorious in both singles and doubles, but received no coverage in the media. It appeared at the time that the news media intentionally omitted the names of these black youngsters because of their race. This led me to conclude that this type of racial discrimination occurred throughout the United States. This discovery convinced me to create Black Tennis Magazine to correct this wrong.” The magazine was supported financially by advertisements from local banks, sporting goods stores, tennis equipment manufacturers and other businesses.

Freeman achieved his goal of creating a magazine that filled an information void in black tennis. The magazine has been, for decades, the leading source of information about black tennis. The first edition of BT Magazine was focused on covering major tournaments in Texas and the Southwest. The magazine was initially an 8 page publication in newspaper format that primarily covered players in the Southwest Athletic Conference (SWAC) which was composed of Prairie View A&M University, Texas Southern University, Southern University, Alcorn A&M and Mississippi Valley State University. Freeman later decided to highlight black tennis players who had the potential to succeed in the predominantly white USTA tournaments. He was therefore able to publish stories about many of the most promising young black players in public schools, colleges and universities.

Starting with the coverage of the ATA national Championship in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1977, the magazine had interesting stories of the most prominent people in black tennis throughout the United States. Some of the players that were profiled in early editions of BT Magazine included: 2008 Black Tennis Hall of Fame Inductees Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe; 2009 BTHOF Inductee Zina Garrison; 2010 BTHOF Inductee Leslie Allen; 2011 BTHOF Inductee Lori McNeal; 2013 BTHOF Inductee John Lucas; 2015 BTHOF Inductee John Wilkerson; the 1975 ATA and 1975 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Men’s Singles Champion Benny Sims; 1976 and 1977 ATA Men’s Singles Champion Terence Jackson; 1978 ATA Singles and Doubles Championship Finalist Cedric Loeb; Juan Farrow, 1978 NCAA Division II Men’s Singles Champion; and, Herbert Provost, Texas Southern University tennis coach and SWAC Coach of the Year in 1971-1972.

In 2000, the magazine became a 32 page publication and added legendary tennis teaching professional Vic Braden to its staff. This change made the publication more popular than ever. It included sections on general tennis news, pro tennis, instruction, college tennis, the ATA and junior development. The 2013 edition of BT Magazine featured the First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama and described her efforts to influence more Americans to adopt a healthy lifestyle which included playing lifelong sports like tennis. This 104 page issue was the largest ever produced. Thanks to Freeman’s efforts, the world has a written record of many of the most important stories in black tennis in the last 50 years.

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Angela Buxton – In 1956, Buxton made history by winning the French Woman’s Doubles Championship with Althea Gibson. She therefore played an important role in helping Althea Gibson become the first African American to win a Grand Slam tournament doubles championship. Buxton and Gibson went on to win the Wimbledon Women’s Doubles Championship that year as well. In 1953 and 1957, she won the Women’s Singles title at the Maccabiah Games for Jewish athletes. People of Jewish descent were not admitted to the All England Lawn Tennis Club where Wimbledon was played until 1952. In addition, they faced discrimination on the world tennis tour. The racism that Gibson experienced and the anti-Semitism that Buxton experienced brought them together on the tennis tour. When they won the Wimbledon Women’s Doubles Championship one British newspaper used the unfortunate headline “Minorities Win” to call attention to their victory.

Buxton was an excellent singles player who reached the 1956 Wimbledon Women’s Finals. Prior to that accomplishment, she won the English Indoor title, the London Grass Court singles championships and the English Hard Court Doubles title with Darlene Hard. She reached the semi-finals of the Women’s Singles division of French Championships in 1956 (the same year she and Gibson won the Women’s Doubles Championship).

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Chip Hooper – In 1986, Hooper became the second African American man (behind Arthur Ashe) to earn a global top 20 ranking. On April 19, 1982, Hooper achieved a career high ranking of number 17 in the world in Singles. On December 8, 1986 he reached a career high doubles ranking of 18 in the world. An extraordinary tennis player with one of the most powerful serves in tennis history, Hooper was the best African American men’s tennis player on the professional tennis tour for many years.

He was one of the most successful black junior players in history. In 1971, his USLTA national rankings included number 3 in Boy’s 12 Singles and number 1 in Boys 12 Doubles (with Juan Farrow). In 1977, Hooper was ranked number 17 nationally in Boys 18 Singles in the USLTA. He was twice named to the US Junior Davis Cup Team and, as a two-time All-American at the University of Arkansas, was the top seed in the 1981 NCAA Championship. Hooper was the first Arkansas student-athlete to achieve the nation’s number 1 ranking in singles. He captured the Southwest Conference titles in 1980 and 1981 and won the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) National Indoor Championship in 1981.

Hooper joined the ATP professional tennis tour in 1982. During his tennis career he won five pro men’s doubles tournaments and was a finalist in two pro men’s singles tournaments. Hooper’s most memorable tournament was the 1982 US Indoor Championships where he had wins over Peter Fleming, Roscoe Tanner and John Sadri before losing to 1998 ITHF Inductee Jimmy Connors in the semi-finals. After retiring from pro tennis, Hooper became a successful coach of top players. He is best known for coaching former world number 1 Jelena Jankovic. Hooper is a true tennis innovator who is now running a program called Black Belt Tennis (BBT) which integrates martial arts theory and practice into the sport of tennis. This approach is designed to integrate the proper balance of intelligence and force. In 2003, Hooper was inducted into the Arkansas Razorback Hall of Honor.

 

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Dale Gilbert Caldwell – In 2007, Caldwell made history by founding the Black Tennis Hall of Fame (BTHF) in New Brunswick, New Jersey. This organization, which has been managed by Executive Director Bob Davis since 2009, has become the premier black tennis history organization in the world. Prior to this accomplishment, in 2006, he made history by becoming the first African American to serve as the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the USTA Eastern Section that was responsible for growing tennis in New York State, Northern New Jersey and Southern Connecticut. When he led in the hiring of D.A. Abrams, the USTA Eastern Section became the first and only section ever led by an African American President and CEO and an African American Executive Director. In 2011, Caldwell made history by becoming the first and only African American to serve as a Section President and CEO and then as a member of the USTA Board of Directors.

Caldwell’s father, Reverend Gilbert Haven Caldwell, Junior knew and marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior. Consequently, he grew up around the Civil Rights Movement and developed a deep passion for black history in the United States. His love for tennis and positive experience playing in the ATA junior circuit inspired him to use his influence as the first black President of the USTA Eastern (one of the most powerful sections in the USTA) to convince the International Tennis Hall of Fame (ITHF) to honor the black players who were not allowed to compete at the highest levels of tennis because of their race. In 2006, shortly after becoming Section President, Caldwell, wrote letters to the ITHF President Tony Trabert and the ITHF Executive Director Mark Stenning describing how Major League Baseball has successfully honored Negro League baseball players. In the letter, he encouraged them to consider developing an exhibit to honor black tennis players and the American Tennis Association (ATA). In addition, he reached out to legendary tennis columnist and commentator Bud Collins to encourage him to speak with Trabert and Stenning about Caldwell’s exhibit idea.

His efforts paid off and the ITHF agreed to develop the exhibit with the Museum Director developing the exhibit and Caldwell as the curator. Former ATA Champion Art Carrington was one of the players that Caldwell admired most when he was growing up. When he learned of Carrington’s passion for tennis history he convinced the ITHF Museum Director Gary Cogar to allow Carrington to serve as Co-Curator of the Exhibit. Cogar, Caldwell and Carrington made history by developing the legendary ITHF touring exhibit on black tennis history called “Breaking the Barriers.” This exhibit, which includes an award winning film, was introduced at the 2007 US Open where 35,000 people saw it. It is historic because it is the first major exhibit to chronicle the history of black tennis from the late 1800s to the 1970s. It has become the most successful touring exhibit in ITHF history.

Caldwell has become an internationally recognized tennis historian because of his curation of the Breaking the Barriers Exhibit; co-authoring the book Breaking the Barriers with the ITHF in 2016; and, co-authoring the book Tennis in New York with Nancy Gill McShea in 2010. In 2013, he founded the New York Open tennis tournament at the legendary West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills. This tournament has become the professional tennis championships of New York City. In 2015, he founded the Global Tennis Alliance, LLC which has established a series of independent professional tennis tournaments around the world called the “Open Tennis Tour”.

He is also an accomplished player who earned national rankings as a junior in the 18 and under division of the ATA and in the 40 and over division of the USTA. In addition, he has been a certified Professional 1 with the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) for 40 years and certified teaching professional with the Professional Tennis Registry for 5 years. In 2010, he was awarded the Tennis Educational Merit Award by the ITHF for his volunteer work on the Breaking the Barriers Exhibit and with the USTA.

dale caldwell

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