tennis in Philadelphia was started and
by the individual and tennis club that started the American
American Tennis Association (ATA) was organized on November
30, 1916 at a meeting held in the Y.M.C.A. in Washington, D.C.
Prior to organization of the ATA, it had been the custom for
players from Baltimore, Washington, New Jersey, Pennsylvania
and the New England States to participate in Invitational and
Interstate Tournaments. The first of these tournaments was
held in 1898 in Philadelphia under the auspices of the
Chautauqua Tennis Club. In 1916 the matches were played in New
York City, with the Ideal Tennis Club and the Turf Tennis Club
acting as host, on courts located on West l3th Street. It was
at a banquet given that year for the visiting players, at the
old "Libya" dining room, that the idea of a National
Association was conceived.
temporary organization was formed by the Association Tennis
Club of Washington, D.C. and the Monumental Tennis Club of
Baltimore, MD., with Mr. D.O.W. Holmes as Chairman, and Mr.
Ralph v. Cook, Secretary. On November 1, 1916 a letter was
sent to all of the Negro Tennis Clubs known to be functioning
throughout the United States, inviting them to send
representatives to a meeting to be held in, Washington, D.C.
on November 30, 1916 at 10 o'clock A.M. It was at this meeting
that the plan for permanent organization was approved.
Officers and an Executive Committee were elected and a
Committee appointed to draft a Constitution. Thus, the
American Tennis Association came into being.
to 1940, American Negroes were denied the opportunity to
participate in tournaments sanctioned by the United States
Lawn Tennis Association and it was seldom that they were even
afforded the opportunity to engage in friendly competition. On
July 29, 1940, however, inter-racial matches were played on
the courts of the Cosmopolitan Tennis Club, an affiliate of
the ATA, in New York City. Ed Hughes, reporting this event in
the "Brooklyn Daily Eagle", said:
"The color line was erased, at least temporally, for
the first time in the history of major American Tennis yester-
day. Don Budge, greatest tennis player in the world,
encountered Jimmy McDaniel, Negro National Singles Champion,
defeating him, 5-1 and 6-2."
It is extremely difficult to record the name of every
individual who played apart in the formation of the ATA. We do
know, however, that among the most prominent were: Dr. Harry
S. McCard, Dr. William H. Wright, Dr. B. M. Rhette, and Mr.
Ralph v. Cook of Baltimore, MD.; Dr. Henry Freeman Rainford,
Mr. H. W. Heron and Mr. Gerald F. Norman, of New York; Mr.
James T. Howard of Philadelphia; Mr. Howard M. Smith of Kansas
City. One of the first American Tennis Association National
Championship Tennis Tournament events was held at the
Germantown YWCA (for coloreds) in Philadelphia August 19-26,
Tennis Club. Inc.
Early in the 1950's, there existed locally a Negro Tennis
League composed of such teams as Loverdale, Germantown,
Chautauqua, Washington and Philadelphia. Toward the end of the
decade, league play declined and several tennis enthusiasts-
gathered at the Christian Street YMCA, in December of 1958, to
lay the groundwork for what became the Philadelphia Tennis
Club in January of 1959. The original group consisted of 18
persons. Meetings were conducted at member's homes until the
clubhouse and tennis courts site at 422 E. Locust Avenue were
acquired. Work was begun on the clay court surface in 1964.
Layout and planning was conduct- ed by James E. Busch, James
Strothers, Charles Massey, Al Bishop, Alexander Roberts, et
Philadelphia Tennis Club (TPTC) was incorporated May 19, 1959
as a non-profit organization. The club was organized not only
to promote the game of tennis among adults, but more
importantly to encourage boys and girls both beginners and
advanced players to participate.
the early years of leasing playing facilities, it was
difficult to maintain schedules. Therefore, it became
necessary for the club to purchase property at 430 Locust
Avenue in Germantown, September 7, 1962. With the heavy
equipment of Harold Lawrence and many volunteer members, the
area was cleared for the construction of five clay courts. It
also became appropriate as well as compelling to purchase the
dwelling adjacent to the courts at 422 Locust Avenue May I,
1967 for a club house. After the club house project, the club
then purchased the property at 454 Locust Avenue, October 5,
1976, and constructed three all weather courts, thus pro-
viding eight courts.
Philadelphia Tennis Club, Inc. is the only Black, Privately
Owned, Tennis Club with tennis courts in the nation, that is
completely self sustaining and independent of any local, state
or federal assistance.
E. Massey was the First President. He was President from March
28, 1959 to 1987. Past and present Presidents: Benjamin F.
Scott, Elaine Bush and Walter P. Moore.
the years, TPTC have had several Jr. Development Programs that
were successful in helping youngsters obtain scholarships. We
also provide programs for adult members of the club, as well
as two USTA sanctioned tournaments, for Juniors and Adults.
club proudly lists among its achievements several former ATA
National Junior Champions: Junior Gray, Emily Wilson Cumbo,
Donald Ringgold, Ericka Lewis, Sabrina Willis, Pam Willis,
Kelly N. Wilson, Edith Gill Rannells; and Adult Champions:
Dorothy Kornegay, Orlando Cummings, John F. D. Manns, Elaine
Bush and Charles E. Massey. Present player affiliations are
such players as Traci Green who is ranked nationally and has
traveled all over the world playing as part of USTA Player
Development Programs and the US National Team. Her brother
Frankie Green is also an aspiring young player with tremendous
prominent player in the adult category is Donald Ringgold.
Donald, as a junior player, was ranked among the top five
players in the Middle States in the 14, 16 and 18 age groups,
and was City Champ at age 14. As a player in the American
Tennis Association, he was a National Junior Champion on
several occasions, and in 1967, he played at Forest Hills. He
remains the only Black man from Pennsylvania to have played
that tournament. Donald is now playing in the Men's 45
division and is doing very well in his "rookie"
The Woodford Tennis Club was founded in 1957 by the late Royal
Simms. It developed from a group of tennis players that played
in Fairmount Park. These courts were known as Woodford Courts
and were located at 33rd and Diamond Sts. In 1960, the club
purchased a club house at 424 E. Wister Street. It was a three
story building with 15 rooms and a large back yard, where a
swimming pool was installed. The group adopted the name,
"The Woodford Tennis Club". They were fortunate to
be next to a part of Fairmount Park which had been abandoned
by the Park Commission. Tennis courts had been there many
years ago. A long term lease with the Park Commission was
negotiated, the area was cleared and the courts were rebuilt.
Those courts have been maintained for the past 34 years.
Junior Development program was started with about 10 to 15
children. In 1977, the club negotiated a contract with the
city of Philadelphia: It enabled the club to enlarge its
Junior Development Program to 100 children, ages 8 to 16. It
eventually became a summer camp, teaching youngsters the
fundamental skills of tennis and allowing them to use the
students have earned scholarships to colleges because of their
tennis skills. Presently, 2 youngsters from Woodford are in
colleges; one at Penn State and one at Rochester Technical
Institute. Both are doing well. The Woodford club firmly
believes in promoting and supporting our black youth.
Woodford's current chairman is Harry Richardson.
tennis classes and organization are: Parkside Tennis Club;
Chamounix Tennis Club; Philadelphia Tennis Center Racquet Club
(Awbury); Top Seed Tennis Academy; J.S. Tennis Classic, Inc.
-(Johnny Sample); Bill Johnson Tennis Program; Black Tennis
Foundation of Philadelphia; am Simon's Tennis Association.
Johnson coaching youngsters in Faimount Park's Memorial HaIL
Februmy 25, 1976.
Beacon for Black Youngsters
No perspective would be complete without acknowledging the
tremendous contribution made to the Black youth am the tennis
family in Philadelphia by Willie "Billy" Johnson.
Bill' had a natural instinct as a teacher, and it was here
that he excelled and made his mark in life. He was one of the
few truly dedicated individuals that had an impact on so man:
children, both Black and White. He taught not only skills, but
the importance of striving for excellence in everything the:
did. It was through him that over 100 youngsters were award ed
scholarships in tennis. His program also boasted numerous
nationally ranked and professional players. Names like Young
Ming Kwan, Dave Abrams and Gregory Williams OWE their start
and part of their success to Billy. Philadelphia, an<
especially Black Philadelphia, is proud to have had Billy as (
friend of tennis and a mentor to young Black tennis players.
Information obtained from: ATA Magazine 1972; AT) Magazine
1975; ATA-Volume 18- No.2; ATA Office Bulletin Fourteenth
National Championships 1930 - Carrol Bishop Philadelphia
Tennis Club Public Release Information -Albert B. Bishop
Contributors -John F.D. Manns, Alfred Brown Walter Moore,
Bernard Chavis and Harry Richardson.