Regional Legends

The individuals recognized on these pages have committed their lives to enriching the tennis in their communities.  They may have been inducted into regional Halls of Fame, or they may deserve such an honor, regardless, Black Tennis History wants to acknowledge and illuminate their accomplishments for the world to see.  If you know of someone who deserves this type of recognition, send his/her impressive resume and photo to me through our “contact me” page.  You just might see your “Regional Legend” on our site.

West Coast

2014

Don Bly – For more than 41 years, Don has graced the tennis courts, coordinated and participated in tennis-related events in the Los Angeles area.  He specializes in developing and enhancing inner-city tennis programs for children.  He is a very well respected coach, leader, tennis enthusiast, tennis partner and friend to our sport. Don is often referred to the “Godfather of West Coast Tennis” a well-deserved moniker. Don’s volunteer activities are too numerous to mention along with the honors that have been bestowed upon him.  Don was the recipient of the SCTA Diversity and Image Award in 2011 and will undoubtedly be inducted into the West Coast Hall of Fame in the not-too-distant future!  If you visit Los Angeles, say “Hi” to Don and congratulate him for all that he does!

don bly


Don Johnson – Don swept the glass and garbage off the less-than-adequate tennis courts in a ghetto in New York City.  On those courts he started a tennis program for African-American, Hispanic and West Indian children.  Simultaneously, he began a quest to solicit nets, tennis racquets and equipment to help the program.  Don was offered the position of Men’s Tennis Coach for Pratt Institute in New York City.  Using his position there, he convinced the administration to offer a free junior program during the summer months.  They agreed and before long, Don had parlayed that program into a NJTL Program on Pratt’s campus.  There he met NJTL co-founder Arthur Ashe and together they ran the Pratt program for seven years.  Don left New York and moved to San Jose, California.  But, he hit the ground running.  Don established  a free or low cost tennis program for 500 youngsters on the East Side of San Jose. Don received the 2003 AAESHOF Sports Advocate Award; in 2004 he was inducted into the USTA NorCal Hall of Fame and received the USTA NorCal MPC Trailblazer Award; in 2005 he was honored  by USTA NorCal with the Six Degrees of Excellence Award.  He is Founder & Director of Los Paseos Lobsters Junior Tennis program, the Backesto Backhanders Junior Tennis Program and the Bramhall Strings Junior Tennis Program.  There is no question that Don has enriched the lives of thousands of impressionable children and his generosity will never be forgotten. 

donjohnson


2015 

Denton Devon Johnson

1900 – 1983

 Denton Devon Johnson was born on October 16, 1900 in Gainesville, Florida. He was the eldest of three children (sister, Rosa and brother, Jack) to Tom and Sarah Johnson. He attended Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia. After college, he moved to Detroit and in 1932 married Dorothy Washington. They had four children – Lila Fae, Millicent Velma, Denton Donley, and Robert Martin.

During the 1930’s Mr. Johnson began playing tennis. Partnering with his father-in-law, Robert Washington, and brother-in-law, Clarence Washington, they opened a private clay court tennis club in Detroit. His interest in tennis soon led him to the mentoring of young tennis players, many of whom received 4-year tennis scholarships to college: Jackie Holloway, Debra Bruno, Barbara Aaron (niece of Hank Aaron), and his two sons, Denton Donley and Robert Martin, as well as several others. His move to Eatonville merely continued his tennis legacy.

– Eatonville –

The first incorporated African-American township in the country

 After moving to Eatonville, Mr. Johnson began teaching the game of tennis to Eatonville’s junior players. He knew this would afford them the opportunities that the other young people in Detroit enjoyed. He started a tennis program in which his son Robert participated and soon followed was his first official student, Tina McCall. After playing tennis one year Tina won her first tournament at the Orlando Tennis Center (OTC) at the age of ten.

 

Mr. Johnson organized a junior tennis team and took the youngsters to various tournaments. His team brought the first Blacks to the Florida tennis circuit. Spectators were so impressed by the quality of play and demeanor of the kids that they donated money to support his efforts. He used these donated funds to build the town’s tennis courts in 1973. He was awarded the Florida Lawn Tennis Association Merit Award for his contributions to amateur tennis in 1971. In 1984, almost two years after his death, Eatonville’s community center was named after him.

Mr. Johnson had asked each of his junior students to give back to the community in any way possible. Tina Waters McCall, one of Mr. Johnson’s early students, became an accomplished player herself. She became the first African-American from Central Florida to earn recognition at state and national levels, the first African-American to receive a four-year scholarship to Indiana University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Administration and Marketing. Tina also was awarded Big 10 Championship titles for 4 years at Indiana University and achieved All-American status in her junior and senior years. There is no question that, due to his vision and devotedness to community, Eatonville’s African-American culture is rich and thriving and that dozens of lives have been forever enriched.

 During the first three years of teaching tennis in Eatonville, Mr. Johnson taught many juniors, some of which that continued to play and achieve state and/or national recognition: Tina McCall, Kevin Barnes, Shari Ware, Jerome Clayton, Robert Johnson, Tara Beacham, Vanessa McCall, Jesenia Bruno, and Destiny Wheeler, as well as others.

The tennis program was a new and expensive sport for the Eatonville community. Tina’s mother held many fundraisers that helped allay the expenses, with the assistance from her coworkers at WaterPark Telephone Company.

Mr. Johnson was great at networking and met Carl  Sangree and other tennis people at WaterPark. With the financial assistance from Mr. Sangree and the town of Eatonville under Mayor Vereen, the first tennis court was built. Imagine learning to play the refined game of tennis on a court with concrete surface and a net made of chicken wire. As time passed, Mr. Johnson paved the way for the five players to play at Rollins College under Coach Norm Copland. They were also able to practice on the clay courts under Hugh Waters in the back.

Mr. Johnson’s coaching and knowledge of the game started to speak through the players. Robert Johnson and Tina McCall were now ranked in the top ten players in their age group in the state of Florida.   His legacy still lives on through Denton Johnson Tennis Corporation (DJTC) founded in 2001 by Tina McCall-Waters.

For more information on the DJTC visit: www.2ttennis.org                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

popsjohnson


 

Bobby Curtis – After 30 years of service, there is virtually no aspect of junior tennis in Florida that hasn’t been touched by Curtis, who helped launch what would become the USTA Jr. Team Tennis program, and the careers of numerous college, pro, and life-long recreational players. Curtis, until 1980, worked for the Youth Tennis Foundation of Florida, where he organized junior tennis as the state coordinator. In 1987 the Florida Tennis Association took over the administration of the program that was built by the Youth Tennis Foundation and Curtis, and renamed it Jr. Team Tennis. In 1991 the USTA offered Jr. Team Tennis across the U.S., and today more than 60,000 youth participate in the league.You can go to almost any junior tournament in the state of Florida and if you hang around for just a short time, someone — the tournament director, a volunteer, a parent — will mention how much Bobby Curtis has meant to that tournament or to a player in the tournament, or to Florida junior tennis as a whole,” said USTA Florida President Donn Davis. “The important thing to remember when that happens is that Bobby does it all with absolutely no interest in his own personal gain. He does it all for the kids. That’s what makes Bobby Curtis so special to all of us.”  Bobby is a treasure to tennis in Florida and has made critical contributions to the lives of thousands of juniors.

bobby curtis

 


2016

Walter Moore

The Black Tennis Hall of Fame recognizes Walter Moore as a 2016 Regional Legend.  Walter has been a dedicated servant of the American Tennis Association and the Philadelphia Tennis Club and community for nearly 6 decades.  He has served on the Board of the American Tennis Association, Vice President of the ATA, Chairman of the ATA Junior Development Committee, Tournament Director, Chief  Referee, Chief Umpire and Charter member of the Philadelphia Tennis Club.  Walter is an ATA National Champion having won the Senior Men’s 60 in 1991, the 70’s in 2006 and doubles titles twice with Nehemiah Atkinson and Roosevelt Thomas as well as mixed doubles with his wife Mara Moore.  Walter has served African-American tennis with conviction, valor and unwavering loyalty.  He personifies dedication and devotion to Black Tennis and the unusual qualities of sportsmanship and honesty and ensuring that his personal legacy involves helping youngsters become better citizens.

waltermoore1

 


2017

Milton Amp Myers – Having been champion in several age divisions doubles tournaments, Milton has also been ranked nationally in USTA and sectionally (the Southern Tennis Association and the Georgia Tennis Association). He has been a positive influence to the growth of tennis in the Black community by volunteering time and effort in several locations, including Crosscourt Racquet Club in Macon, GA. and the Coan Tennis Association in Atlanta.  In addition, Milton has coached several ALTA (Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association) teams that have won City Championships and several USTA teams that have won local, district, sectional and placed in national league play.  He played collegiate tennis at Fort Vally State University where he won Conference Doubles Championships.  Milton has a league  Mixed Doubles win over former 2-time Grand Slam Doubles Champion Ellis Ferreira, who was also the 2000 Australian Open Doubles Champion and 2001 Australian Mixed Doubles Champion.  Milton taught in the public school system for 15 years as a PE teacher where he expose tennis to thousands of children.  He also was the boys middle school tennis coach from1999-2004 in Amerecus,Ga.   Along with his partner Lonnie White, he has assisted in free tennis camps in Moultrie Georgia for the recreation department for the past 10 years.  He is a well respected player and coach in the tennis community because of his hard work and tenacity on the court and his passion for the sport of of tennis as a coach.

Comments
  1. Benjamin Mendoza|23:06, 6. July, 2013 Reply

    I think I took this picture at the Home Depot Center. 🙂 Good old Don.

  2. LaRhonda Amos|14:34, 13. July, 2013 Reply

    Congratulations to both of these extraordinary tennis legends on both coasts of the USA. Don Bly in the West (our current Godfather of Los Angeles County) and Don Johnson of The East Coast.

    Maybe it’s because their both named “DON”. AGAIN CONGRATULATIONS.

  3. LaRhonda Amos|14:39, 13. July, 2013 Reply

    In reply to Ben Mendoza – BEN YES YOU DID TAKE THAT PHOTO (thanks), during the Pete Brown Tennis Classic at Home Depot Center. Don was there to play his finals match in Men’s Open 70’s and also to tape his Adventures Thru Tennis – Early Memories to Current Memories of West Coast Minority Experiences; along with other West Coast greats: Earthna Jacquet, Dee Williams Horne, Larry Smith and Jean Richardson. Each had 15 minute segments. These will be out on You Tube soon.

  4. Ronita|5:07, 18. July, 2014 Reply

    Don Bly is my Superstar and angel.

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