Celebrating Black History Month
Beatty Tennis Club
USTA Midwest | February 16, 2018
The elusive history of African American tennis was born in neighborhood tennis organizations which sprung up in and near urban centers in America. These local clubs, many of which are now well over one hundred years old, served both as centers for healthy activity for African Americans and as a venue for tournaments and inter-club competitions between cities.
One of these organizations, the Beatty Tennis Club of Columbus, Ohio, was founded in 1949 and remained active until 1983. The club coordinated many programs for adults and junior tennis players, with most taking place on the courts at the Beatty Recreation Center on North Ohio Avenue.
The Beatty Club’s rich history was legendary for African American tennis. Teams from Beatty traveled throughout the Midwest playing similar clubs. On numerous occasions, the Beatty Tennis Club hosted the Midwestern Tennis Association championships (Mid-Tac) at the Beatty Courts and the American Tennis Association (ATA) Nationals in Wilberforce, Ohio.
In fact, the Beatty Tennis Club boasts of hosting the Mid-Tac Tournament in 1950 at the Beatty Courts where tennis great Althea Gibson played one week before her historic appearance as the first African American female permitted to play at Forest Hills in New York.
Although Beatty Tennis Club is no longer active, the Wolfe Park Tennis Association of Columbus, Ohio is advocating local community leaders in hopes of recognizing the club for its rich African American history and strong contributions to tennis. The WPTA is working with these community organizations to organize the following:
- Adding a visual, historical presentation in the Beatty Recreation Center that would include memorabilia, artifacts and articles about the club and its impact on tennis and African Americans.
- Adding signage to recognize the site as the former home of the historic Beatty Tennis Club.
- Resurfacing and upgrading two courts at the site.
The USTA/Midwest Section congratulates the Wolfe Park Tennis Association on its efforts to preserve African American tennis history in its community!