Black History Month Highlight: Trennis Jones
At the 2022 USTA Texas Annual Meeting in Frisco, Texas, Trennis Jones joined the USTA Texas Board of Directors. In addition to his service to USTA Texas as a volunteer, he serves as Texas Regional Director of the Positive Coaching Alliance, an organization dedicated to promoting leadership and positive relationships and behavior in sports.
As a part of Black History Month, Jones shared some of his perspectives and insights on the sport and his relationship to it.
Q: How did your relationship with tennis begin?
A: My relationship with the game of tennis started before I was even here in the form of my mom loving the game the way that she did and being a fan. The earliest memory I have is Wimbledon in the summertime. I’d watch it with my brother on HBO wall-to-wall and as soon as the coverage went off, we headed to the courts and proceeded to attempt to emulate the things we saw Zina [Garrison] do, that Andre [Agassi] did and that Pete [Sampras] was doing on those courts.
It was an important time in my life. I was trying to convince my mom to buy really expensive Nike Agassi gear. I never really got her to do that, but I remember the joy, I remember the pride that I had in watching someone like Zina Garrison achieve what she did and just the way that she carried herself. As a young kid from Texas, watching a Black woman play as well as she did and handle the stresses that came with playing with such grace was something that helped me in my own personal development and something I’ll never forget.
Q: What does it mean to you to serve on the USTA Texas Board of Directors?
A: It means a great deal of pride. I feel a great deal of responsibility in being a part of a group that’s been tasked with growing the game of tennis in a way that’s healthy, honest, competitive, inclusive and joyful. All of those things can be accomplished if we work together and have the right people together around the table. I take a great deal of responsibility that the seat that I hold is not dead weight and that I can bring something to the conversation to ensure that each kid, potentially kids that look like me, are represented in those conversations.
I know that we have a great deal that we can give to the game and there’s a great deal that we can receive from it too. If we don’t create a climate or environment that is recruiting kids to play and to stay in the game then we’re doing the game a disservice. I look forward to serving with the board to ensure we accomplish those things.
Q: What’s something you want people to know about Black culture?
A: I’d say Number one, we’re not monolithic. We’re each different and we have different perspectives and experiences. Secondly, I would say, (without being able to speak for an entire race of people) I would say that we would love to be able to succeed or fail on our own merit. I think we’re looking for fairness. If we’re good enough, let that be enough, and if we fail, then give us the same opportunities to rebound that others receive. If we can do that in fairness that’s what I’d like people to know about Black people.
I’d also say that we’re survivors. There have been lots of things and difficulties that have been presented to all of us, and specifically the Black folks of America. For all of us to be able to survive, and succeed, and to thrive, it shows a group of people willing to work, willing to adapt, willing to make sure that we don’t take no for an answer and to continue to drive forward. I would want people to know again that we’re not all the same. We want fairness and we’ve overcome some things. I think that needs to be recognized.
Q: What would you tell young Black tennis players in the state of Texas?
A: I would tell them to be themselves. Be authentically you. You are one of one. You’ve been given specific gifts that we need. If you dim your light and don’t share those things with us, then not only are you hurting yourself, you’re hurting society at large because we need those gifts shared. Those people are already spoken for, but you can still be yourself.
Secondly, one of the reasons to be yourself is that others have come before you that were not allowed to be themselves. They sacrificed for you to allow you that freedom. It would be disrespectful to Althea [Gibson], Arthur [Ashe], Venus [Williams], Mal [Washington], and Otis Sadler and Serena [Wiliams] if you weren’t being authentically yourself. They sacrificed to make sure that you can use that gift and it would be disrespectful to them if you didn’t.
The best version of you is you, we need your gift activated. You are a part of a strong bloodline connected to very powerful people that have done otherworldly things. Those things need to be respected in the form of you being yourself.