Juneteenth: Honoring Nehemiah Atkinson, Chanda Rubin & Lenny Simpson

Ron Cioffi | June 15, 2022

In recognition of Juneteenth, USTA Southern is proud to distinguish the three African American members of the Southern Tennis Hall of Fame, established by the Southern Tennis Foundation


Southern Tennis Foundation Chairman Derek White, the first African American to serve in that post and as USTA Southern President & CEO, said, “It is an honor to bring a highlight to the three Black inductees in the Southern Tennis Hall of Fame. Additionally, USTA Southern annually celebrates Juneteenth as a holiday that honors our Black community’s struggle for freedom. While Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of slaves after the end of the Civil War, the work of delivering true justice for African Americans in our nine states continues to be in the forefront for all volunteers and staff working for tennis in the Southern Section.”


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Here is a summary of those inductees:

Nehemiah Atkinson, 1997

Nehemiah Atkinson served as Director of Tennis for the City of New Orleans for 22 years. He won over 15 Southern singles championships and several silver balls as a finalist at USTA National Championships. He was inducted into the Louisiana Tennis Hall of Fame in 1986 and was the recipient of the inaugural Kennedy Ripple of Hope Award and the T. N. Touchstone Memorial Trophy presented annually to a Southern senior player who displays outstanding sportsmanship and support of tennis in the South.

Chanda Rubin, 2009

Ranked a career-high of No. 6 in the world, Chanda Rubin reached the singles semifinals of the 1996 Australian Open, the singles quarterfinals of the French Open three times and won the 1996 Australian Open doubles title. Additionally, she won seven singles titles on the WTA Tour and 10 doubles titles. Rubin received the 1997 Arthur Ashe Leadership Award for commitment to community involvement and children’s programs. She served as an Elite Athlete on the USTA Board of Directors for three terms. She was also inducted into the Louisiana Tennis Hall of Fame in 2012 and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2013. Currently, she is a commentator on the Tennis Channel.

Lenny Simpson, 2020

Lenny Simpson was awarded the USTA NJTL Founder’s Service Award, USTA North Carolina Educational Merit Award, USTA Southern Educational Merit Award, USTA Southern Marilyn Sherman Spirit Award, USTA North Carolina NJTL Chapter of the Year, Wilmington Community Service Award and selected for the USTA Foundation NJTL 50 For 50. He has been inducted into five other halls of fame including the Black Tennis Hall of Fame and the North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame. He is the founder of the Lenny Simpson Tennis & Education Fund. He operates One Love Tennis, a nationally recognized NTJL in Wilmington, N.C.


More info, things to do
USTA Southern celebrates Juneteenth officially on Monday, June 20, and encourages our members to use the holiday as a time to reflect, support black-owned businesses, and participate in Juneteenth events, whether related to tennis or not. Our podcast, Talking Tennis Southern Style, has a Juneteenth episode featuring Citizen Ashe filmaker Rex Miller and American Tennis Association President Roxanne Aaron.


Here is a list of Juneteenth events, which are not necessarily related to tennis:




               Middle TN

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