Journey to Re-establish Tuskegee Community Tennis Club

REFLECTIONS

Tuskegee and tennis have a long, shared history.

Booker T. Washington built the first clay tennis courts in Alabama on the front lawn of the academic building on the campus of Tuskegee Normal in 1890.

Twenty-six years later in 1916, Tuskegee Normal was one of the founding members of the American Tennis Association (ATA). (Integrated tennis play was not allowed anywhere in the USA.)

MY STORY

When I left the Tuskegee Institute community in 1960 there were 4 member clubs. When I returned in 2014, there were no tennis clubs and only 2 active adult tennis players. The Tuskegee Institute Community Tennis Club was founded in 2016 to ensure that the 100-year legacy of ATA tennis would continue in the Tuskegee Institute community for another 100 years and beyond. Last year the club participated in two ATA sanctioned tournaments. This year we have competed in 2 events and we are now preparing to attend the 100th Anniversary of the ATA nationals in Baltimore.

THE NEXT GENERATION

Aaron Bates represented the Tuskegee Institute Community Tennis Club in the “Wimbledon In Valdosta” tournament June 10th and 11th. Aaron was introduced to the game by watching his grandmother play with her friends since the age of 3. This was his first out-of-state competition in the Boys 14 and under category. He entered the first match without formal instruction. We left Tuskegee at 4:00 am EST (4 hour travel time) and arrived at our destination at 9:00 am  EST.

Start time for the first match was 10:00 am. He lost 0-6, 1-6. He played the second match at 3 :00pm and lost 6-2, 4-6, 8-10 (tie breaker) after receiving 30 minutes of coaching before the second match. It was a long non-stop day.

He commented, “I learned that you have to be physically fit to play tennis. You also have to be conditioned to play in the heat of the day.” Aaron has a good attitude, which is why we are recruiting young and old, new and former tennis players or spectators to join the effort to revive the American Tennis Association in Macon County. The fact that he showed up and was willing to compete, made us proud. Our “Tennis Development Program” will assist him and others like him, with opportunities to “earn a College tennis scholarship.” Aaron understood that although he didn’t win his matches this time, there will be a next time and a different outcome. He also stated, “I dug down deep to compete and I kept my head up after leaving the court. This trip wasn’t about winning, it was about learning the game and having fun.” We can all learn while having fun, the winning will come with “Practice, Practice, Practice.”

Consider this an official call for community support for the Tuskegee Institute Community Tennis Club team to assist the Team to attend the 100th ATA Nationals Tournament in Baltimore, Maryland in July. Online Entries deadline is July 7, 2017

Our travel fundraising deadline for this 3rd event is 4:00 pm, July 25, 2017.

Donations can be made in 4 ways:

1) Online to: www.naturesgardenvp.org/donate Scroll down to Tuskegee Institute Community Tennis Club

(Note: TICTC 2017 Tournament Campaign)
2) Call Larry King, Sr. (914-329-9292) to pick up your cash or check

3) Mail your donation to: TICTC PO Box 670 Tuskegee Institute, AL 36087 .

(Make check or MO payable to: Nature’s Garden VP
Note: TICTC 2017 Tournament Campaign)

4) Join Nature’s Garden Water Club or Shadie Grove’s Blueberry Patch
“Delivering the Goods “Healthy Community Cooperative Distribution System”

Nature’s Garden VP is a local Non-Profit Organization
“UNITY IS STRENGTH, DIVISION IS WEAKNESS” Swahili Proverb