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Black Tennis History Timeline 1931-1960

11. June, 2017||Comments Off on Black Tennis History Timeline 1931-1960

 1874-1900  |
 1901-1930  |
 1931-1960  |
 1961-1975  |
 1976-2016  |


The 15th ATA Nationals were held at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.  Flood lights allowed night play for the first time.  Reginald Weir of New York City triumphed in the Mens Singles and Ora Washington won her third National Singles Championship.  Nathaniel and Franklyn Jackson won the Men’s Doubles.  Ora Washington and Blanche Winston were the winners of the Women’s Doubles.  Anne Roberts and Ted Thompson captured the Mixed Doubles.


The Tuskegee Syphillis Experiment begins under the direction of the U.S. Public Health Service.  The experiment ends in 1972.
Franklin D. Roosevelt elected 32nd President.
Lynchings – 6

The 16th ATA Nationals were held at Shady Rest Country Club in New Jersey.  Reggie Weir, on a changed line call, went on to win the Men’s Singles title.  Ora Washington defeated Francis Gittens for the Women’s title.  Richard Hudlin and Doubles Turner won the Men’s Doubles and Ballade and Ora Washington won the Women’s Doubles.  Martha Davis and Henry Williams won the Mixed Doubles, while Franklyn Jackson won the Junior Singles.


The 17th ATA Nationals were held at Hampton Institute.  Reginald Weir again faced Nat Jackson in the finals and won decisively in straight sets.  Ora Washington won her fifth consecutive Women’s Singles Championship.  Nathaniel and Franklyn Jackson won the Men’s Doubles, and Ora Washington and Anita Want won the Women’s Doubles Title.  Emma Leonard and Dr. Clarence O. Hilton captured the Mixed Doubles.  Hubert Eaton won the Junior Singles.


The Apollo Theater Opens in Harlem
Lynchings – 15

The 18th ATA Nationals were held at Lincoln University in Lincoln, Pennsylvania.  Nathaniel Jackson won the Men’s and Ora Washington repeated yet again for the Women’s Championship.  Ora Washington and Lulu Ballard won the Women’s Doubles.  Nathaniel and Franklyn Jackson captured the Men”s Doubles Championship.  Emma Leonard and Dr. C.O. Hilton repeated as Mixed Doubles Champions.


In Norris v. Alabama, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that a defendant has a right to trial my a jury of his peers.
Lynchings – 18

The 19th ATA Nationals were held at West Virginia State College.  Franklyn Jackson and Ora Washington won the singles – Washington her 7th in a row.  The Men’s Doubles title was captured by the Jackson Brothers and the Women’s Doubles title was retained by Ora Washington and Lulu Ballard.  the Mixed Doubles event was suspended from the schedule.  Girl’s added to ATA National Championships.


Jesse Owens wins four Gold Medals at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.
Mary McLeod Bethune is the first black woman to receive a presidential appointment.

The 20th ATA Nationals were held at Wilberforce University.  Lloyd C. Scott won the Men’s Singles and Lulu Ballard ended Ora Washington’s streak to take the Women’s Championship.   Nathaniel and Franklyn Jackson retained their Men’s Doubles title for another year.  Ora Washington and Lulu Ballard successfully defended their Women’s Doubles Championship.  For the second consecutive year, the Mixed Doubles event was suspended from the schedule.


Joe Louis knocks out Jim Braddock to become the World Heavyweight Champion.

The 21st ATA Nationals returned to Tuskegee Institute.  Dr. Reginald Weir won his 4th singles title and Ora Washington claimed her 8th.  James Stocks and Thomas Walker won the Men’s Doubles Championship.  Women’s Doubles was won by E. Lylyan Spencer and Bertha Isaacs.  Flora Lomax and W.H. Hall won the reinstated Mixed Doubles title.  Fred Johnson, the one-armed marvel, won the Veteran’s Singles.

Boy’s singles and junior doubles were added to the ATA National Championships.


The 22nd ATA Nationals returned to Lincoln University.  Franklyn Jackson won the Men’s Singles title and Flora Lomax took the Women’s title.  Nathaniel and Franklyn Jackson regained their Men’s Doubles title.  Margaret and Roumania Peters won the Women’s Doubles and Lulu Ballard and Gerald Norman, Jr. won the Mixed Doubles title.


Bill “Bojangles” Robinson organizes the Black Actors Guild.

The 23rd ATA Nationals were held at Hampton Institute.  Jimmie McDaniel from Xavier University beat Dr. Reginald Weir for the Men’s Championship and Flora Lomax was victorious over Roumania Peters for the Women’s title.  McDaniel and Cohen triumphed over the Jackson Brothers to win the Men’s Doubles title.   Roumania and Margaret Peters retained the Women’s Doubles title.  The Mixed Doubles was by by Ora Washington and Dr, Sylvester Smith.


Richard Wright publishes his first novel, Native Son.
Hattie McDaniel is the first black actor to receive an Academy Award – Best supporting actress in Gone with the Wind.

The 24th ATA Nationals returned to Wilberforce University.  Jimmie McDaniel retained the Men’s title after a 5 set match against Richard Cohen of Denver.  Agnes Lawson claimed the Women’s Championship.  Clifford Russell and Howard Minnis won the Men’s Doubles and Margaret and Roumania Peters won the Women’s Doubles.  Flora Lomax and William Hall captured the Mixed Doubles.

The historic Don Budge versus Jimmie McDaniel Match at the Cosmopolitan Club in the Harlem Section of New York City takes place.  Budge wins the match 6-1, 6-2.


Japan Attacks Pearl Harbor.  The United States enters World War II.
U.S. Army creates Tuskegee Air Squadron.

Holcombe Ward, USLTA president, send a congratulatory letter to the ATA on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee, stating, “I extend most cordial greetings and sincere wishes for the success less of the American Tennis Association in its further development, work and efforts to maintain the high standards of the game of tennis wherever played.”Wherever Played”, however, did not include USLTA tournaments.

The 25th ATA Nationals are held in Tuskegee, Alabama. Jimmie McDaniel wins the Men’s title and Flora Lomax wins her third Women’s Singles title. Jimmie McDaniel and Richard Cohen win the Men’s Doubles title and Margaret and Roumania Peters win the Women’s Doubles title. Eoline Thornton and Harold Mitchell win the Mixed Doubles title. Raymond Jackson wins the Boys 18 Singles title and Thelma Mc Daniel wins the Girls 18 Singles title.


The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) founded by James Farmer.
U.S. Marine Corps accepts African American men for the first time.

The 26th ATA Nationals were held at Lincoln University.  Dr. Reginald Weir won his 5th Singles title and Flora Lomax won the Women’s Singles.  Lomax and Lillian Van Buren took the Women’s Doubles and Howard Minnis and Clifford Russell captured the Men’s Doubles.  Kathryn Jones and William E. Jones won the Mixed Doubles.  Fred Johnson entered Althea Gibson in her first tournament – the New York State Open Championship, Girl’s Division.  Which she promptly won!

Fred Johnson enters Althea Gibson in her first tournament – the New York State Open Championships, Girls Division – which she wins.


The 27th ATA Nationals were cancelled due to WWII.


Frederick Douglas Patterson establishes the United Negro College Fund.

The 28th ATA Nationals were held at the Cosmopolitan Tennis Club in New York City.  Lloyd Scott defeated Robert Ryland for the Men’s title and Roumania Peters captured her first Women’s Singles title.  Margaret and Roumania Peters captured the Women’s Doubles.  Howard Minnis and Ronald Fieulleteau won the Men’s Doubles.  Lillian Van Buren and Delbert Russell took the Mixed Doubles title.

Althea Gibson captured the ATA National Girls Championship.


World War II ends.
Nat King Cole becomes the first African American to have a radio variety show which airs on NBC.
Ebony Magazine publishes its first issue.

The 29th ATA Nationals returned to the Cosmopolitan Club.  Lloyd Scott claimed his second Men’s title and Kathryn J. Irvis won the Women’s Singles Championship.  Lloyd Scott and Louis Graves won the Men’s Doubles while Margaret and Roumania Peters repeated as Women’s Doubles winners.  Delbert Russell and Lillian Van Buren repeated as Mixed Doubles winners.


The U.S. Supreme Court in Morgan v. Virginia rules that segregation in interstate bus travel is unconstitutional.

The 30th ATA Nationals were held at Wilberforce University.  Jimmie McDaniel of Los Angeles won the Men’s Championship/  Roumania Peters won her second Women’s title against 17 year old Althea Gibson from New York City.  James Stock and McDaniel defeated Lloyd Scott and Louis Graves for the Men’s Doubles title while Margaret and Roumania Peters captured the Women’s Doubles.  Ora Washington and George Steward took the Mixed Doubles.


Jackie Robinson becomes the first African American to play Major League Baseball in the 20th Century.

The 31st ATA Nationals returned to Tuskegee Institute.  Panamanian George Stewart won the Men’s Singles Championship handily, beating Lloyd Scott 6-1, 6-1, 6-2.  Young Althea Gibson turned the tables on last year’s champion Roumania Peters and captured her first Singles title.  The Peters sisters retained their Women’s Doubles title and John Chandler and Harold Mitchell captured the Men’s Doubles.  Mixed Doubles were won by Ora Washington and George Stewart.


President Truman orders the desegregation of the Armed Forces.
Alice Coachman becomes the first African American woman to win an Olympic Gold Medal when she captures gold in the high jump.

The 32 ATA Nationals were held at South Carolina State University.  George Stewart and Althea Gibson repeated as Singles Champions.  Steward and Hubert Eaton won the Men’s Doubles while the Peters sisters, “Pete and Repeat” added another Women’s Doubles title.  Althea Gibson paired with Dr. R. Walter Johnson to take the Mixed Doubles title.


Businessman Jesse Blanton, Sr. establishes WERD-AM, the first black-owned radio station.

The 33rd ATA Nationals were held at Wilberforce University.  The Men’s Singles final was postponed indefinitely due to rain.  The Men’s Doubles was also postponed, with George Stewart and Hubert Eaton winning at a later date.  Althea Gibson won her third Women’s Singles brown.  Margaret and Roumania Peters captured the Women’s Doubles event.  Althea Gibson and Dr. R. Walter Johnson successfully defended their Mixed Doubles title.


Gwendolyn Brooks becomes the first African American to receive a Pulitzer Prize.
Ralph Bunche becomes the first African American recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

The 34th ATA Nationals we’re again held at Wilberforce University.  Oscar Johnson from Los Angeles defeated former champion George Stewart for the Men’s title.  Althea Gibson took her 4th Women’s Singles Championship title.  She teamed with Dr. R. Walter Johnson to capture the Mixed Doubles title.  James Stocks teamed with Oscar Johnson to win the Men’s Doubles.

Althea Gibson becomes the first African American to play in the US Nationals. She beats Barbara Knapp 6-2, 6-2 at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, Queens, New York in this historic first round match. In the second round, Gibson loses to Louise Brough 1-6, 6-3, 6-8. She is leading in the third set 7-6 when a thunderstorm forces the halt of play. The next day Gibson loses three straight games to lose the match.


The U.S. Supreme Court rules racial segregation in District of Columbia restaurants is unconstitutional.

The 35th ATA Nationals continued at Wilberforce University.  George Steward and Althea Gibson captured the singles titles.  Brother and sister Leo and Mary Fine won the Mixed Doubles.  Margaret and Roumania Peters won the Women’s Doubles.  Dr. Hubert Eaton and George Stewart captured the Men’s Doubles.

Victor Miller and Roosevelt Megginson became the firs blacks to compete in the USLTA Interscholastic Championships in Charlottesville, Virginia.


Ralph Ellison published “Invisible Man.”
Tuskegee Institute reported no lynchings in the United States for the first time in the 71 years of keeping records.

The 36th ATA Nationals continued at Wilberforce University.  The Singles Championships saw a repeat of the previous year with George Steward defeating Norman Appel and Althea Gibson vanquishing Mary Etta Fine.  The Peters sisters, Margaret and Roumania captured yet another Women’s Doubles title.  Althea Gibson and Dr. R. Walter Johnson captured the Mixed Doubles title.


The 37th ATA Nationals were held at Bethune Cookman College.  George Stewart and Althea Gibson repeated as Singles Champions.  Margaret and Roumania Peters continued their steak in the Women ‘s Doubles.  Althea Gibson and Dr. R. W. Johnson retained their Mixed Doubles title.  The Men’s Doubles was call off because of rain.

Lorraine Williams becomes the first African American to win a USLTA National Championship – The National Girls’ 15 Singles title.


The Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education declares segregation in all public schools in the United States unconstitutional, nullifying the earlier doctrine of “separate but equal.”
Malcolm X becomes Minister of the National of Islam’s Harlem Temple 7.

The 38th ATA Nationals returned to Bethune Cookman  College.  Earthna Jacquet and Althea Gibson won the singles events.  Jacquet teamed up with Wilbert Davis to win the Men’s Doubles Championship.  Ending a decade long grip on the Women’s Doubles title by the Peters sisters, Evelyn George and Ivy D. Ramsey captured the title. Althea Gibson and Dr. R. Walter Johnson successfully defended their Mixed Doubles Championship.


Rosa Parks refuses to relinquish her seat on the bus to a white man, initiating the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
14 year old Chicago resident Emmitt Till is murdered in Mississippi for allegedly whistling at a white woman.
Chuck Berry records “Maybellene.”

The 39th ATA Nationals returned to Wilberforce University.  Robert Ryland defeated Howard Minnis for the Men’s title and Althea Gibson continued her reign by defeating Nana Davis Vaughn.  Walter Thomas and C. Albert Dixon of Syracuse, New York captured the Men’s Doubles.  Taking the Women’s doubles title were Mary Etta Fine and Eva Find Bracey.


Nat “King” Cole becomes the first African American to host a prime time variety show on national television  – appears on NBC.

The 40th ATA Nationals continued at Wilberforce University.  Robert Ryland defeated Vernon Morgan, the New York State ATA champion, to retain his Singles title.  Althea Gibson won her record 10th consecutive title by beating Nana Davis Vaughn.  Angela and Lorraine Williams won the Women’s Doubles, while Dr. Hubert Eaton and George Stewart captured the Men’s Doubles.  Gwendolyn McEvans and Lt. col. W.A. Campbell won the Mixed doubles.

Althea Gibson wins the French Championships and becomes the first African American to win a Grand Slam tennis championship.


Congress passes Civil Rights Act of 1957 – the first legislation protecting black rights since Reconstruction.
Martin Luther King, Jr.,  Charles K. Steele and Fred L. Shuttlesworth establish the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.  The SCLC becomes a major force in organizing the civil rights movement and base its principles on non-violence and civil disobedience.
President Eisenhower sends federal troops into Little Rock, Arkansas to ensure the enforcement of a federal court order to desegregate Central High School.

The 41st ATA Nationals again at Wilberforce University.  George Stewart and Gwen McEvans won the singles titles.  Stewart and John Chandler teamed to win the Men’s Doubles.  Fine and Bracey won the Women’s Doubles.  Doris Harrison and Ernie Ingram captured the Mixed Doubles.

Althea Gibson becomes the first African American to win the US National Championships.

Althea Gibson wa named the Associated Press Woman Athlete of the Year and winner of the Babe Didrikson Zaharias Trophy as Female Athlete of the Year.


Alvin Ailey Dance Theater is formed

The 42nd ATA National were held at Wilberforce University.  Wilbert Davis and Mary Etta Fine won the singles titles.  Wilbur Jenkins and Tom Calhoun won the Men’s Doubles.  Miss Fine and her sister, Eva Fine Bracey, captured the Women’s Doubles.  Clyde Freeman and Gwen McEvans captured the Mixed Doubles.

Althea Gibson wins her second US National Women’s Singles title.  Althea Gibson wins her 2nd  Wimbledon Championship.

Again, Althea Gibson was named the AP Woman Athlete of the Year.  Later in the year, she announced her retirement from amateur tennis.


Berry Gordy, Jr. founds Motown Records in Detroit, Michigan.

The 43rd ATA Nationals continued to be held at Wilberforce University.  Wilbert Davis retained his title defeating Wilbur Jenkins of Jacksonville, Florida in five sets.  Gwen McEvans won her second Women’s Championship by beating Darnella Everson.  Joseph Pierce and Shaw Emmons won the Men’s Doubles in a one set sudden death match limited because of darkness.  Marlene and Darnella Everson captured the Women’s Doubles.

Bob Ryland participates in tennis promoter Jack Marsh’s World Pro Championships in Cleveland and becomes the first black male tennis professional.


The sit-in protest movement begins at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina.
The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) is founded at Shaw University.
Civil rights Act of 1960 was passed by Congress, which provided for penalties for obstructing anyone in registering or casting a vote.
Wilma Rudolph wins three track and field gold medals at the Rome Olympics.

The 44th ATA Nationals returned to Hampton Institute.  17 year old Arthur Ashe, Jr. beat 6 time champion George Stewart to capture the Men’s Singles Championship.  Mimi Kanarek won the Woman’s title.  The Men’s Doubles winners were Wilbur Jenkins and Tom Calhoun.  Bessie Stockard and Lorraine Williams captured the Women’s Doubles.  Elaine Bush and George Stewart captured the Mixed Doubles.

Arthur Ashe, Jr. captured the US Boy;s 18 Indoor Championship.



The Dale Caldwell Collection

6. June, 2011||No comments

The Caldwell Collection, a series of photos more than 70 years old, is owned, and presented on this website, by Dale Caldwell.  These photos are from ATA member tennis clubs in Oakland, Pasadena and Los Angeles, California taken from 1938-1940.  Not all of the individuals shown have been identified.  If you can identify any of the individuals – or provide any other illumination, please note the number of the photo and offer whatever information that you have.



Photo #1     ATA Champion Jimmie McDaniel



Photo #2     This photo is of tournament finalists Jimmie McDaniel and Lloyd Scott.



Photo #3     Harold “Schoolboy” Mitchell.



Photo #4     Only identified as “Stocker”.

Photo #5     Players Tolbert and Edgar Foley.



Photo #6     Player serving.  This is what’s known as the “Trophy Stance”.



Photo #7    This “Player ID Tag” was issued to Edgar Foley upon arrival at the Pennsylvania Championships in 1939.



Photo #8     Female player striking a backhand.



Photo #9     Leonard Fuller and Edgar Foley



Photo #10     Hazel Shumate.



Photo #11     Juliett Harris



Photo #12     Leonard Fuller



Photo #13     This group photo shows the Western Federation Delegation to the ATA National Championships at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio in 1940.



Photo #14     Participants in the Ross Snyder Tennis Club tournament in 1938.



Photo #15     Pacific Coast Tournament participants in 1940.



Photo #16     This is a photo of the outside cover of the  Pacific Coast Tournament Program in 1938.



Photo #17     This is a photo of the inside cover of the Pacific Coast Tournament Program in 1938.



Photo 18.  L. Simmons



Photo 19.  Hall of Famer Flora Lomax



Photo 20.  Another photo of Flora Lomax

Photo 21.  Trophies from the Oakland tournament

Photo 22.  Paul Ford at Oakland

Photo 23.  Mrs. Paul Ford

Photo 24.  Rudyard Foley



Photo 25.  Two Doubles Teams



Photo 26.  A player in 1939



Photo 27.  A player in Pasadena, 1940




2011 Inductees

29. May, 2011||One comment

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. oramaefinals


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.



Here, Jewel Peterson accepts Lori’s induction Award and Trophy from BTHOF Executive Director Bob Davis and Founder Dale Caldwell. peterson1

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.


Contributor Category/ATA Chairman’s Award Winner:

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.



Video Interview with Billy Davis

28. March, 2011||One comment

Billy Davis won 11 ATA National Titles spanning a period of more than 30 years.  He was Althea Gibson’s training partner and the road manager for her exhibition tour during the 1950’s.  Billy was a ballboy for the historic match between world champion Don Budge and Black champion Jimmie McDaniel.  In this two-part interview, Billy discusses his recollections of tennis from the 1940’s through today. Musical introduction by the Cole Hamlin Trio.  To reach him contact at

Untitled from Bob Davis on Vimeo.

Untitled from Bob Davis on Vimeo.

Interesting Photos

27. March, 2011||No comments

The following photographs are depict candid moments of ATA regulars.  If you would like to add your personal photos, use our contact page and send them (and as many details as you can provide) to me.


The photo to the right is a group photo taken during the ATA National Championships at Central State University, Wilberforce, Ohio in 1958.

Bobby Johnson, Dr. Walter Johnson’s son, was young Arthur Ashe’s primary tennis coach.

Johnny Chandler and Harold “Schoolboy” Mitchell at the 1949 ATA Nationals. The match was never completed.

Lendward Simpson and Donald Ringgold at the ATA Nationals in 1962.  Lendward went on to be elected into the USTA Southern Tennis Hall of Fame on January 29, 2011.

Babe Jones was a longtime ATA competitor from Baltimore, MD.

Arthur Ashe at the age of 10 in 1953.  Who could have known that he would become one of the most beloved tennis players that the game ever knew?

Bonnie Logan, winner of the 1967 ATA Women’s Singles title is congratulated by finalist Sylvia Hooks and tournament administrators.  This event was held at Central State University in Wilberforce, OH.

Arvelia Myers, President and Founder of the Pyramid Tennis Club in New York seated with Mr. Clifford Blackman, Treasurer of the American Tennis Association.

The photo to your right is more than 70 years old.  At least three Hall of Famers are represented.  At the very left, Hall of Fame inductee Billy Davis at the age of 10.  Standing next to him is legendary Hall of Famer Jimmie McDaniel and to the right, Hall of Famer Dr. Reginald Weir.  This photo was taken at the Cosmopolitan Tennis club in Harlem, New York.  Notice how close to the courts are the buildings in the background.  People could often be seen watching matches from their windows.

Gallery of Champions #2

20. March, 2011||No comments



Margaret (L) and Matilda Roumaina (R) Peters both graduated from Tuskeegee University and both became school teachers.

They were born in Washington, DC in 1915 and 1917 respectively.

They won so many ATA National Doubles titles that they were nicknamed “Pete and Repeat.”

They won ATA National Doubles titles in 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952 and 1953.

This record of 14 National Doubles titles remains unequaled to this day.

Matilda died on May 16, 2003.

The Peters sisters were inducted into the Black Tennis Hall of Fame in 2012.



George Stewart was born in Panama in 1923.

He was the first Black to compete in the NCAA.

He won ATA National Singles titles in 1947, 1948, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1957 and 1964.

He won ATA National Doubles titles in 1948, 1949, 1951, 1956 and 1957.

His partner for four of these titles was Dr. Hubert Eaton (former president of the ATA).

His partner for the 1957 title was John Chandler.

George Stewart  



Oscar Johnson became the first Black to win a USLTA tournament when he won the National Junior Public Parks tournament in Los Angeles in 1948.

He was recognized as the “Jackie Robinson” of tennis signifying his breaking of the color barrier.

Oscar played mixed doubles in the U.S. National Championships in 1953 with Althea Gibson reaching the 1/4 finals.




Dr. Reginald Weir was born in Washington D.C.

He was captain of the tennis team for City College of New York (CCNY).

He was the first Black man to play in a USLTA National tournament, the National Indoor Championships held at the 7th Regiment Armory in New York City.

He graduated from medical school and became known as the “Black Bill Tilden” because of his power and versatility.




Dr. Richard (Dick) Cohen was a graduate of Xavier University and a college teammate of Jimmie McDaniel.

He later graduated from medical school.

Dr. Cohen won ATA National Doubles titles in 1939 and 1941, but is probably most noted as a competitor in the historic doubles match when Don Budge visited the Cosmopolitan Tennis Club in 1940.

Dr. Cohen and McDaniel competed against Don Budge and Dr. Reginald Weir.

Dr. Richard Cohen



Billy Davis was born in New York City  on January 6, 1930.

At the age of 10, he was a ballboy for the historic match between Don Budge and Jimmie McDaniel.

He played tennis for- and graduated from Tennessee A&I.

Billy won the 11 ATA National titles spanning a period of nearly 30 years.

He won the Boys 15 singles in 1945, the Jr. Boys 18 Doubles in 1945, the Boys 18 singles in 1948.

He won the ATA Men’s singles titles in 1958, 1959, 1963, 1966 and 1967.

He won ATA National Men’s Doubles titles in 1954 and 1962 and finally the ATA National Men’s 45 Singles title in 1978.

Wilbert (Billy) Davis

Gallery of Champions #1

18. March, 2011||No comments


Lucy Diggs Slowe was born on July 4, 1885 in Berryville, VA.

She was the founder and President of the National Association of College Women.

Ms. Slowe was also the founder of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and won the first ATA National Womens Championship in 1917.

She was also the Dean of Women at Howard University in 1922; She died on October 27, 1937.



Lucy Diggs Slowe




Although never inducted into the Black Tennis Hall of Fame, Edgar G. Brown was described as the “Father of Topspin”.  He was said to be colorful, confident and competent and responsible for bringing tennis  to a new level in 1931.  The Rev. Mr. W. W. Walker goes on to say, “Brown, more than any other Negro, advanced the standard of the game, and younger players for the first time realized that tennis must be studied as a science, and practiced as a most difficult art.”


Tally Holmes won the first ATA National Men’s Singles title in 1917. He also won singles titles in 1918 and 1921.

He won the ATA Men’s Doubles title in 1917, 1918, 1921, 1922, 1924, 1925 and 1927.

Mr. Holmes was the finalist in the 1920 Nationals, losing to B.M. Clark a Jamaican and the first Black to play at the All England Championships at Wimbledon.

Eyre “Bruiser” Saitch (top row, far right) was the ATA National Singles Winner in 1926.

He also won National Doubles Titles in 1926, 1928 and 1929.  He was a member of the New York Renaissance, a colored only basketball team (also known as the New York Rens).

In one 86 day stretch during the 1932-33 season, the Renaissance won 88 straight games.

Eyre Saitch was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1963 winning more than 2,000 games.

Fred Johnson (shown here in 1937) was a one-armed teaching professional who lost his arm in an industrial accident.

He was the head professional at the Cosmopolitan Tennis Club in Harlem, New York.

He was one of Althea Gibson’s early coaches – teaching Althea her serve; in spite of the fact that he tossed the ball and struck the ball with the same hand.

Fred was the ATA Senior Men’s Singles Champion in 1934, 1937 and 1938.

Ora Mae Washington was born in Philadelphia, PA.  on Dec. 23, 1898.

She was dubbed the “Queen of Tennis”.

Ora Mae won the ATA National Singles Titles in 1929 and 1937.  She also was ATA National Doubles Champion for 12 consecutive years.

Helen Wills Moody refused to play her for fear that she might lose to a Black woman.

Ms. Washington was inducted into the Temple University Hall of Fame in the mid 1980’s and into the Woman’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.

She died on 12/21/1971.

Jimmie McDaniel is most noted for playing the first interracial tennis match against a world class player.  Don Budge, #1 player in the world, visited Harlem, New York to play an exhibition against Jimmie at the Cosmopolitan Tennis Club in 1940.

Jimmie won the ATA National Men’s Singles title in 1939, 1940, 1941 and 1946.

He won the ATA National Men’s Doubles title in 1939 and 1941 with his college teammate Dr. Richard Cohen.

He won the ATA National Men’s Doubles title in 1946 with James Stocks.

He won the ATA National Men’s Doubles title in 1952 with Earthna Jacquet.

Breaking the Seal Moments

18. March, 2011||4 comments

There are moments in history that I call “Breaking the Seal Moments. Just as the pressure is forever released when one pulls the tab on a new can of tennis balls, there are occasions that act to change racial prejudice from that moment forward.  There are just over a handful of “Breaking the Seal Moments” in tennis, but these moments changed the sport of tennis forever.

Moment #1

Slavery was abolished in the United States in 1865.  Nearly 15 years later, in 1880, the United States Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA) was founded (The name was later changed to USTA).   Tennis was the dominion of the white, upper class and Blacks were neither interested, nor invited to participate.  Segregation was rampant throughout America and an attitude of exclusion was pervasive in most areas of American society.

Blacks began to surface on tennis courts in about 1890 at Tuskegee Institute.  Booker T. Washington, one of America’s great, black visionaries and leaders, founded Tuskegee.   In his famous Atlanta Address of 1895, Booker T. Washington set forth the motivating spirit behind Tuskegee Institute. In a post Reconstruction era marked by growing segregation and disfranchisement of blacks, this spirit was based on what realistically might be achieved in that time and place. “The opportunity to earn a dollar in a factory just now,” he observed, “is worth infinitely more than the opportunity to spend a dollar in an opera house.” Because of Washington’s extraordinary ability to work within the system and to maximize the possible, Tuskegee flourished to the extent only dreamed about when he met his first students on July 4, 1881.

The 1st “Breaking the Seal Moment” occurs in 1898 when Blacks began to have inter-club matches with rival black clubs in New York, Philadelphia and a variety of other eastern seaboard cities.  These inter-club rivalries were primarily networking opportunities; occasions for the black, college-graduated elite to commune with their colleagues from other cities. This group of clubs eventually grew in number until an organizational structure was needed.  In 1916, the American Tennis Association (ATA) was created as the governing body of Black tennis in America.  In the fifty years since slavery was abolished, 80% of the Black population became educated.    Nearly 4 million people came out of slavery as legislated illiterates and by 1915, an elite middle-class had been formed.  By today’s standards, this is a phenomenal accomplishment.  When one considers the growing rate of illiteracy across America, illiteracy that transcends racial lines, we should look at this statistic with awe and wonder!


Moment #2


Don Budge participated in a “Breaking the Seal Moment” in 1940 when he agreed to go into Harlem, NY to play an exhibition match against Jimmie McDaniel.  This exhibition took place during the height of segregation.  Don Budge was the # 1 player in the world and Jimmie McDaniel was the #1 Black player in the world.  More than 2000 spectators jammed into the Cosmopolitan Tennis Club on Convent Avenue to watch a Black player compete, for the first time, against a top white player.  Although McDaniel lost 6-1, 6-2, Budge would say at the conclusion of the match that he felt that, if Jimmie were allowed to compete against all comers, he would likely be in the top ten in the world.  A white player had taken a stand in support of equal opportunity.

Moment #3

Less than a decade later, a young Californian named Oscar Johnson arrived on the tennis scene.  Oscar was the first Black player to enter a USLTA tournament.  He won the National Junior Public Parks tournament at Los Angeles’ Griffith Park.  He also won the Pacific Coast Junior Championships in singles and doubles in 1946-1948.  The 3rd “Breaking the Seal Moment” occurred when Oscar entered the USLTA National Junior Indoor Championships in St. Louis, MO.  His entry was accepted and he presented himself at the armory where the event was being held.  Carrying several rackets as he approached the tournament desk, the tournament official asked, “What are you doing here, boy?”  Oscar replied that he was here to play in the tournament; that his application for entry had been accepted.  “My name is Oscar Johnson!”  The official looked down the list of entries and found Johnson’s name.  “Well, I’ll be damned.  But, you won’t play here, boy.”  Mr. Richard Hudlin, a man that would later mentor and support Arthur Ashe, sent a telegram to the USLTA in New York.   Mr. Hudlin had a rich background himself, when he was captain of the University of Chicago tennis team, the first Black captain of a “Big Ten” college.  The USLTA soon answered the telegram, admonished the local officials and instructed them to allow Oscar to play.  Oscar reached the ¼ finals before losing to Tony Trabert, who would later become one of the world’s top players.  Oscar wasn’t the best player in the world, but he proved that he absolutely deserved to play among them!

Moment #4

Two years later, in 1950, Althea Gibson was getting recognition as a serious challenger to the best players in the world.  But, her entries into the major events in America were being rejected because of her color.  Again, a white player, Alice Marble stepped forward.  The 4th “Breaking the Seal” Moment was when Ms. Marble wrote a letter to the USLTA that was published in the American Lawn Tennis Association Magazine.  The entire letter can be viewed on this site, under the “Black Tennis History” link, but it read in part, “Miss Gibson is over a very cunningly wrought barrel, and I can only hope to loosen a few of its staves with one lone opinion.

I think it’s time we faced a few facts.  If tennis is a game for ladies and gentlemen, it’s also time we acted a little more like gentle people and less like sanctimonious hypocrites.  If there is anything left in the name of sportsmanship, it’s more than time to display what it means to us.  If Althea Gibson represents a challenge to the present crop of women players, it’s only fair that they should meet that challenge on the courts, where tennis is played.”  Althea Gibson went on to win the French Open Singles and Doubles titles in 1956 and U.S. National Championship and Wimbledon in 1957 and 1958.


Moment #5

Arthur Ashe, playing as an amateur in the first open tournament (a tournament in which amateurs and professionals competed against one another) wins the tournament.  Still a lieutenant in the U.S. Army, Ashe proves to be the best tennis player in the world.  This was a defining moment for Blacks, especially those that had trained with and competed against Ashe.  Any question concerning whether or not Blacks had the talent or intelligence to compete at the highest levels of the sport had been emphatically answered.


Moment #6

Arthur Ashe identifies Yannick Noah.  While traveling through Africa in 1971, Ashe comes across a talented 11 year-old boy.  Ashe hits with him for about ten  minutes, during which the young Noah aces him.  Impressed by this young mans raw talent, Arthur arranges to have him and his family move from Cameroun, in West Africa to Nice, France to become part of the French National Junior training program.  Ashe said; “I have never seen such a talented 11 year old player before – either black or white.”  History would prove that Ashe’s intuition was correct.  Yannick Noah went on  to win the French Open title and prove to all the world that talent and discipline alone are omnipotent.

(Submitted by Duey Evans of the Samuell Grand Tennis Center in Dallas, TX)

I would also include Arthur Ashe’s Davis Cup debut in 1965. Held at Samuell Grand Tennis Center in Dallas because the white country clubs wouldn’t allow him to use their facilities. The US beat Mexico 4-1.

More Moments to follow!

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BTHOF 2009 Inductees

17. March, 2011||No comments

  • Ora Washington: Many people consider Ora Washington the greatest woman athlete of all time and speculate that if she played when tennis was integrated she would have been the best woman’s tennis player in the world. Washington was born on January 16, 1899 and grew up in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. In 1924, she was encouraged by a local coach to take up tennis to help her deal with the grief she was feeling because of the death of one of her sisters. She clearly had a gift for playing tennis and started winning matches soon after she began playing the sport.Washington played tennis competitively for 12 extraordinary years in the ATA and became a champion just five years after she first picked up a racquet. She won the ATA Women’s Singles Championship in 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935 and 1937. The legendary Althea Gibson is the only person to win more ATA Women’s Singles titles. In addition to her singles championships, Washington won the 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939 and 1940 ATA Women’s Doubles Championships (most of these titles were won with her frequent singles rival Lulu Ballard). She also won one ATA Mixed Doubles Championship.Washington’s athletic success was not limited to the tennis court. She initially played basketball with a Philadelphia team named the Germantown Hornets. In 1930, this team had a 22-1 record and won the national women’s basketball team title. In 1931, Washington was the star player on a Hornet team that won 33 consecutive victories. She then played with the Philadelphia Tribune basketball team from 1932-1942 and became one of the most versatile and successful players in basketball history serving as the coach, center and leading scorer. This incredible team won 11 Women’s Colored Basketball World Championships in a row. Her success on the tennis court led many to believe that she was the best women’s tennis player in the world while her prowess on the basketball court led many to consider Washington to be the best women’s basketball player in the world.Arthur Ashe wrote in “A Hard Road to Glory” that Washington “may have been the best female athlete ever.”  She was so gifted she could practice while she played. Washington once said, “I don’t believe in long warm-ups. I’d rather play from scratch and warm up as I went along.”  Between 1927 and 1933, Helen Wills Moody (1959 ITHF Inductee) won an incredible 180 straight matches without losing a set. During that winning streak, when Black players were not allowed to compete in major tournaments, she won an incredible 14 Grand Slam Singles Championships. However, in spite of her extraordinary success in “White Only” tournaments she refused to play Ora Washington. Her refusal to play Washington made Don Budge’s willingness to play Jimmie McDaniel (see Jimmie McDaniel biography) all the more impressive.Washington’s success on the tennis court convinced members of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration to build hundreds of public tennis courts in urban neighborhoods across the United States to introduce tennis to the black community. Tragically, she never received the international recognition she deserved and, while working as a housekeeper, coached young people on the public tennis courts in Germantown, Pa., where she began playing tennis.  In addition to being inducted into the Black Tennis Hall of Fame in 2009 Washington was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.


  • Jimmy McDaniel: In 1940, McDaniel was part of a tennis match that is considered by many to be one of the most significant sporting events in history. The importance to racial progress of Kenny Washington breaking the National Football Leagues (NFL) color barrier in 1946 and Jackie Robinson breaking the Major League Baseball (MLB) color barrier in 1948 is recognized throughout the world. However, few people know about the historic 1940 tennis match in New York City between the undisputed white world champion of tennis Don Budge and the undisputed black champion of tennis Jimmie McDaniel.A lot has been written about Kenny Washington of the Los Angeles Rams becoming the first African American to sign a contract with an NFL team in the post-World War II era (on March 21, 1946) and Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers who became the first African American to play a MLB game (on April 15, 1947). Yet, little attention has been paid to another important date in sports history that preceded both of those seminal events. The date was July 29, 1940 and the event was a match between the ATA champion Jimmie McDaniel and the first man to win all four of the world’s most important tennis championships in the same year, Don Budge. Incredibly, in 1938 Budge, became the first man to win tennis’ “Grand Slam” (the Australian, French, Wimbledon and US Men’s Singles Championships) in the same year. McDaniel won the ATA National Championships in 1939, however, because he was black, he was not allowed to play in the same international championships as Don Budge.On this historic date in 1940, the black champion James (Jimmy) McDaniel and the white champion John Donald (Don) Budge squared off in front of 2,000 spectators at Harlem’s Cosmopolitan Tennis Club.  The match was sponsored by Wilson Sporting Goods, which had a sponsorship contract with Budge. The timing of the match was perfect because Budge was in the middle of a five-year run as the world’s number one-ranked tennis player and McDaniel was virtually unbeatable in the ATA circuit.As the best white tennis player in the world during a period of intense segregation, Budge deserves tremendous credit for agreeing to play this match. He had nothing to win and everything to lose. Tennis was a sport that was controlled on and off of the court by the wealthiest people in the world. The sport was rampant with discrimination by both race and class. If Don Budge, who dominated a rich white sport, were to lose to Jimmie McDaniel than a monumental barrier of both race and class would have been shattered. It was inconceivable to think at the time that a poor black kid could beat the best white player in a rich white sport. Budge’s willingness to play McDaniel was one of the most courageous feats in sports history.McDaniel’s success on the ATA circuit made him the greatest black tennis player of the pre-World War II era.  He won the 1939, 1940, 1941 and 1946 ATA Men’s Singles and Doubles Championships. Between 1939 and 1941 McDaniel won thirty-eight of the forty-three ATA tournaments he entered. However, Budge’s international playing experience (and comfort playing on clay tennis courts) gave him a significant advantage and he won the match by a score of 6-1, 6-2. Al Laney, the well-known tennis columnist for the New York Herald Tribune (and 1979 ITHF Inductee) wrote that it was likely that McDaniel “could hold his own against the current crop of white players if he were able to play a few tournaments in which they competed.”[1] It is rumored that Budge stated “Jimmie is a very good player, I’d say he’d rank with the first 10 of our white players.” Neither the victory nor the score was as important as the historic reality that this seminal match broke through important barriers of race and class.[1] Al Laney “2,000 Negroes,” New York Herald Tribune, July 30, 1940.


  • George Stewart: Born in Panama in 1923, Stewart was the first Black man to play in five US National Championship tournaments. Stewart and Dr. Reginald Weir became the first Black men to play at the U.S. National Championships in 1952. Even though they both lost in the first round, tennis history was made by their appearance in the tournament. In 1957, Stewart won his first round match at the US Championships beating Hal Treveen of the US 6-3, 6-3, 6-1. However, he lost in the round of 64 to Donald Thompson of the US 5-7, 3-6, 4-6.Stewart was one of the best Black tennis players in history. He won the ATA Men’s Singles Championship in 1947, 1948, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1957 and 1964. In addition, Stewart won the ATA Men’s Doubles Championship in 1948, 1949, 1951, 1956 (with Dr. Hubert Eaton) and 1957 (with John Chandler).

  • Reginald Weir:  In 1948, thirty seven year old New York City resident Dr. Reginald Weir submitted an entry to participate in the USLTA National Indoor Championship held at the 7th Regiment Armory in New York City. Black players were not allowed to play in USLTA tournaments. However, tournament officials never thought that a doctor would be Black so they accepted Dr. Reginald Weir’s entry without question. They were surprised when Dr. Weir arrived at the tournament. However, it was too late for them to deny his entry into the tournament. Much to their disappointment he won his first round match. Weir therefore made history by becoming the first African American to play in a USLTA National Championship.He lost in the second round to Bill Talbert (1967 ITHF Inductee). New York tennis historian Nancy McShea wrote in Weir’s Eastern Tennis Hall of Fame biography that “after the match Talbert said to future Wimbledon Champion Dick Savitt (1976 ITHF Inductee) ‘What a class act he is; it’s too bad he didn’t get a chance to play more (national) tournaments in his prime. He’s very quick and a very good volleyer.’” Weir had tried to play in a USLTA national tournament several times starting in 1929 when he was refused entry into the national junior indoors that were held at the 7th Regiment Armory. In his book, A Hard Road to Glory: A History of the African American Athlete, Arthur Ashe wrote that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) protested the USLTA’s denial of Weir’s tournament entry in 1929 because he was Black and received the following reply from the USLTA: “…the policy of the USLTA has been to decline the entry of colored players in our championships…In pursuing this policy, we make no reflection upon race but we believe that as a practical matter, the present method of separate associations (USLTA and American Tennis Association) should be continued.”Even though it was late in his tennis playing career, Weir took Pancho Gonzalez (1968 ITHF Inductee) to three sets in a later tournament. Weir was also an incredible person off of the court. He was an extraordinary physician who, in 1935, became one of the first Black medical school graduates of New York University Medical School. In just four years, Weir became an assistant in surgery at NYU Medical Center and in 1941 started a private practice and served as one of the first African American surgeon’s in Governor’s Hospital on the Lower East Side.

    In 1952, Weir and George Stewart became the first Black men to play in the U.S. National Championships. Even though they both lost in the first round, tennis history was made by their appearance in the tournament. Weir was considered the best black tennis player in the world in the 1930s because he won the 1931, 1932, 1933, 1937 and 1942 ATA Men’s Singles Championship.

    Prior to these victories he was a star player on the integrated City College tennis team in New York. Weir was inducted into the Eastern Tennis Hall of Fame in 1999. In addition, he won several national USTA age group titles and was recognized numerous times by the USTA for his contributions to tennis.


Robert Ryland: In 1959, Ryland broke through barriers of race and class by becoming the first African American to become a tennis professional. His success in both ATA and integrated amateur tournaments around the country made him one of the best known black players in the US. His fame led sports promoter Jack Marsh to ask Ryland to make history by joining his professional tennis circuit which included legendary tennis players Pancho Gonzalez (who was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame (ITHF) in 1968), Lew Hoad (ITHF Inductee in 1990) and other top pro players. Ryland accepted and another barrier of race and class was broken when he played his first pro match in Cleveland in 1959.   HRyland started playing tennis at age nine. He was taught by his father and the iconic Mrs. C.O. “Mother” Seames (one of the first nationally known black tennis coaches) of the Chicago Prairie Tennis Club in Chicago, Illinois. Ryland had a talent for the sport and quickly rose to stardom by winning the Illinois State High School Championship in 1939, beating Jimmy Evert (Chris Evert’s father) on the way to the title. In addition, in 1939, he won the ATA Boys 18 and under Singles Championship. In 1944, he played in a historic exhibition tennis match at the Cosmopolitan Club with legendary player Alice Marble (1964 ITHF Inductee) against Dr. Reginald Weir and Mary Hardwick. Ryland and Marble won the match 10-8. In 1946, he won the Men’s Singles Championship in the Detroit Public Parks integrated tournament. In 1947, he lost to the number one ranked U.S player Ham Richardson 4-6, 5-7 in the Pacific Southwest Championship. In 1952, he won the integrated Los Angeles Industrial City Championships. In 1955 and 1956 he won the ATA Men’s Singles Championship in addition to being a finalist four other times.

Playing for Wayne State University, Ryland was the first black man to play in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament, advancing to the quarterfinals in 1946. Ryland was so admired in the black tennis community that a 14 year old Arthur Ashe said his only dream was “to be good enough to beat Bob Ryland.” In 1955, Ryland received a nomination by the ATA to play in the USLTA Nationals at Forest Hills. At the age of 35, with no experience on grass, he lost in straight sets in the first round. Clearly, Ryland might have done well in the US Nationals if he had been allowed to play it in the prime of his tennis career. In the 1960’s, he worked briefly at the St. Albans Tennis Club in Washington, DC where he gave tennis lessons to some of Washington’s elite. He later coached Venus and Serena Williams when they were juniors and touring pros Harold Solomon and Leslie Allen. In addition, he taught tennis to many celebrities including Bill Cosby, Dustin Hoffman, Barbara Streisand and Tony Bennett.


Wilbert “Billy” Davis: Born on January 6, 1930, Davis was the winner of 11 National Tennis Titles over a period of 33 years. He won the Boys 16 ATA National Singles and Doubles Championship in 1945; the Boy’s 18 ATA National Championship in 1948; the Men’s ATA National Singles Championship in 1958, 1959, 1963, 1966 and 1967; the Men’s ATA National Doubles Championship in 1954 and 1962; and, the Men’s ATA 45 Singles National Championship in 1978.  Davis played for and graduated from Tennessee A&I. In addition to being one of the best black players in the country for many years, Davis was a mentor to Arthur Ashe and one of the most influential black tennis leaders in the country. In addition to winning the ATA National Men’s Double’s titles together in 1962, Billy and his brother Bob (who was inducted into the Black Tennis Hall of Fame in 2014) played an important role in influencing future players and growing the sport in the black community.

Wilbert (Billy) Davis

Wilbert (Billy) Davis


Bonnie Logan  : In the 1970s, the Virginia Slims tennis tournaments comprised the vast majority of high profile events on the women’s professional tennis tour. In 1971, Logan, a Durham, N.C. native, made history by becoming the first African-American woman to play in a Virginia Slims Tournament. She became a legend in the black tennis community because of her dominance of the American Tennis Association (ATA) National Championships during the 1960s. From 1964 to 1970, Logan captured seven-consecutive ATA women’s singles titles. In addition, in 1968, Logan captured the Eastern Carolina Closed Championship in both singles and doubles. Two years later she accomplished the same feat at the North Carolina State Closed Championship.


Logan was a talented junior player who won the Maryland Girl’s 14 and Under Championship, the Girl’s 16 and Under Championship and the Girl’s 18 and Under Championship in consecutive years.  Her emergence into the tennis world as a star came as no surprise because she spent much of her early playing career taking on men and older more experienced players. As a student-athlete at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Logan, was so much better than the players on the women’s tennis team that she petitioned to join the men’s team — and won. She went on to play #2 for the men and won her flight in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tennis Championships. She spent her last two years of college focused on playing against women and later competed in the NCAA Championships. Logan finished her college career lettering in five sports and, in 1983, she was inducted into the MSU Varsity M Athletic Hall of Fame.


Logan is a tennis playing legend because of her victories in the 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969 and 1970 ATA Women’s Singles Championships. Only Althea Gibson (10) and Ora Washington (8) have won more ATA National Women’s Singles Championships than Logan. In addition to her singles titles, Logan won one ATA Women’s Doubles title and four ATA National Mixed Doubles titles.



Zina Lynn Garrison: In 1990, Garrison reached the Wimbledon Women’s Singles Final and became the second black woman (2008 Inductee Althea Gibson was the first) to reach a Grand Slam Final. She was also the first African American to serve as captain of the U.S. Federation Cup Team (2004) and the Women’s US Olympic Team (Bejing 2008). It was clear from her early tennis success in life that she would become one of the most talented black players in history. She was an extraordinarily successful junior player. In 1977, at the age of 14, Garrison won the USTA Girls 18 National Championship. In 1981, she won the US Open and Wimbledon Junior Championships and became the number 1 junior player in the world. ZinaGarrison

Malivai Washington: In 1996, at the Wimbledon Championships, Washington became the second African American (BTHF 2008 and ITHF 1985 Inductee Arthur Ashe was the first) to reach a Grand Slam Final. He was an All-American tennis player at the University of Michigan before turning pro in his junior year of college. Washington became an extremely successful professional player who reached a career high of number 11 in the world and had wins over many tennis legends including: Andre Agassi, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, Jimmy Connors, Michael Chang, Stefan Edberg, Gustavo Kuertan, Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe.He has become as successful in his retirement as he was on the tennis court. He is the founder and driving force behind one of the most effective community tennis programs in the country, the Malavai Washington Kids Foundation in Jacksonville, Florida. In 2005 and 2008, the foundation was named the United States Tennis Association (USTA) National Junior Tennis League (NJTL) Chapter of the Year for its outstanding work “developing champions in classrooms, on tennis courts and throughout communities.” In 2009, Washington received the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year Award during the ATP World Tour Awards. In addition, in 1997, Washington received the Boys and Girls Clubs of America CARE Award and, in 1998, he was honored with the Arthur Ashe Athletic Association Leadership Award. malwashington