In their own words: Jodie Adams on tennis in the public parks
The National Public Parks Tennis Championships (NPPTC) will be the weekend of July 22-24, hosted by the Bucks County (Pa.) Tennis Association and supported by the Bucks County Tourism Grant Program. The event returns to the Philadelphia area for the first time since 1926. (For more on the NPPTC, visit its website.)
Next year will be the 100th anniversary of the NPPTC, which was started in 1923 in St. Louis by tennis legend Dwight Davis (founder of the Davis Cup international team competition), who was the city’s parks commissioner. The 2023 tournament will return to its birthplace, St. Louis.
In honor of the NPPTC, we’ve asked volunteer leaders who have been instrumental with the tournament over the years to share their thoughts on the importance tennis in the public parks has played throughout the history of this sport in the United States. Up next: Jodie Adams.
The beauty of public parks is that people can engage with them in any way they want—from a place to simply sit and read a book, to a gathering place for friends and family, to venues for all types of healthy exercise and competition.
Tennis, of course, has a long history in the public parks, as exemplified by the National Public Parks Tennis Championships, which tennis legend Dwight Davis started in St. Louis in 1923. The 2022 NPPTC will be in Bucks County, Pa., July 22-24, then for the 100th anniversary in 2023, the tournament will return to its birthplace, St. Louis.
I’ve had the honor, and pleasure, of both competing in the NPPTC and helping to organize four of them when they were played in Springfield, Mo., in 1983, 1987, 1991 and 1998. (In 1987, Jean Larrick and I won the 30-and-over doubles title at the NPPTC.)
I fell in love with the parks early on, working in the parks system and teaching tennis as a teen. I was a competitive junior player, played at Missouri State University (we went to nationals three times), then played on the pro circuit. I decided to leave the tour and take a a full-time position in the parks, eventually serving for 32 years with the Springfield-Greene County (Mo.) Park Board, retiring in 2011 as the Director of Parks.
I’ve been a longtime national volunteer with the USTA, serving on the Tennis in the Parks Committee and many others, and also as a member of the USTA Board of Directors from 1999 to 2000. I also spent eight years on the Board of Trustees for the National Recreation and Park Association, including as president.
Currently, I’m working with the USTA as a consultant, focusing on growing tennis through the parks and working with key partners to make that happen. Since more than 70% of tennis is played at public facilities, we need to continue to grow and renovate those venues to ensure that future generations continue to have a healthy, public alternative for staying fit physically and mentally through tennis.
[Editor’s note: Jodie Adams has received many awards and honors, including 2022 Missouri Recreation and Parks Hall of Fame inductee, 2021 USTA Barbara Williams Lifetime Service Award, 2010 USTA President’s Award, 2010 International Tennis Hall of Fame Samuel Hardy Award for Outstanding Service to Tennis, 2007 USTA/NPPTA Jean and Hollis Smith Lifetime Achievement Award, 2000 National Recreation and Park Association Gold Medal Award to Springfield-Greene County Park Board, Missouri Sports Hall of Fame President’s Award and Inductee, and USTA Missouri Valley Hall of Fame.]