USTA history archive

Warren Kimball, a long-time USTA volunteer who served on the USTA Board of Directors for four years, has been working on an institutional history of the USTA since he retired from teaching history at Rutgers University. Below are "short subjects" taken from his research.

Who "owns" the Association?
During the February 1933 meeting of the Executive Committee, an extensive debate took place over authority of sections versus that of the National Association.  The Eastern section had proposed an amendment to its constitution which would give the section the right to discipline players and members.  Other sectional delegates agreed that the USLTA "should stay out of these small laundries."  The final clause in the amendment proposed that the section "have the power to suspend, expel or disbar any club or player under its jurisdiction who shall act in a manner contrary to the purpose of the Association or the welfare of the game."

USTA name changes: All for good grammar
We all vaguely recall that the Association dropped "Lawn" from its official name some time ago. That was, in fact, done in 1975, and then only after a number of tries. But few recall that, from the USTA’s founding in 1881 until 1920, its official name was the United States National Lawn Tennis Association.

The "first" lawn tennis game in American story
The most compelling and engaging and persuasive "first" lawn tennis game in American story is that of one Martha Summerhayes. Her recollections have solid dating, whatever the other questions raised. An army officer’s young wife, Martha Summerhayes mentions tennis being played in Camp Apache in the Arizona Territory in early October 1874!

Wingfield the Mysterious
Sometime in the late 1970s, a new entry mysteriously appeared on the schedule for the USTA Annual and US Open meetings – "Wingfield Society dinner." It wasn’t a committee; it wasn’t publicly explained; it wasn’t something most attendees knew anything about. Wingfield who? What society? What did it do? Why was it on the schedule? By the 1990s, some of those few in the know, when questioned, all too often grinned, giggled, and offered evasive answers.

Stephen Wallis Merrihew was perhaps the most effective and tenacious campaigner for lawn tennis, in America and around the world, the game has ever seen. His best known role was as editor and publisher of American Lawn Tennis (ALT) for nearly forty years, starting in 1907 as the official USNLTA organ.
 

 

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