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Black Tennis Pioneers



Nehemiah Atkinson – wrote a column called, "Hard Court Tennis Notes," for the Louisiana Weekly, covering the exploits of Arthur Ashe, among many other legends. The senior tennis phenom was a member of the Gardnar Mulloy Cup in 1999, 2001, and the winning team in 2001 in Perth. He was the singles world champion in 2001 in the men's 80 division, and runner-up in 1999 and 2000. He also won his first gold ball at the hard court championships in 1999. Served as a pall bearer at Arthur Ashe's funeral. Atkinson passed away at the age of 84 on Feb. 9, 2003, in his home of New Orleans.

Dr. Reginald Weir – first black person to play in a United States Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA, which is now the USTA) national championship, the USLTA National Indoors, March 11-19, 1948. (Weir lost in the second round to eventual champion Bill Talbert.) In 1952, he joined George Stewart as the first black men to play in the USLTA National Championships at Forest Hills. Both lost in the first round.
 
Tally Holmes and Lucy Diggs Slowe – winners of the men's and women's singles titles, respectively, in the inaugural American Tennis Association (ATA) National Championships in August 1917.

Oscar Johnson – first black person to win a national championship, which he did by capturing the inaugural Boys' 18 National Public Parks singles championship in August 1948.

Dr. Robert Walter Johnson – coach and mentor to Arthur Ashe, Althea Gibson and scores of other young black tennis players. To use a modern-day analogy, he was the Nick Bollettieri of black tennis in the 1940s and '50s.

H. Stanton McCard – elected to be the first president of the ATA in 1916.

Jimmie McDaniel – the greatest black player of the pre-war (WWII) era. A four-time ATA national singles champion, he won 38 of 43 tournaments between 1939 and 1941.

Margaret and Roumania Peters – the Tuskegee University grads won a record 14 American Tennis Association (ATA) doubles championships, including impressive runs from 1938-41 and 1944-53. The USTA honored the sisters in 2003 with an achievement award during the Fed Cup quarterfinals in their hometown of Washington, D.C. The Peters sisters were also inducted into the USTA's Mid-Atlantic Section Hall of Fame in November 2003. Roumania Peter died at the age of 85 in May of 2003 from pneumonia.

George Stewart – a seven-time ATA national singles champion, he joined Dr. Reginald Weir as the first black men to play in the USLTA National Championships at Forest Hills. Both lost in the first round.

Ora Washington – won eight ATA singles titles and 12 doubles titles between 1925 and 1937; recognized as one of the greatest black women tennis players of all time. 



 
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