FORT LAUDERDALE – The American Tennis Association (ATA) will this Thursday unveil the design for a $6 million headquarters on currently vacant land on Sistrunk Boulevard.
ATA President Dr. Franklyn Scott said Wednesday the organization will seek grants, donations and sponsorships, including corporate support, and launch a large-scale fundraising campaign at the start of 2014 to finance the building of the center.
He is hoping the ATA Permanent Home and Training Facility will be ready to be occupied in 2016 when the association, the oldest black sports organization in the country, will mark its 100th anniversary. The ATA will then move its headquarters to the new center which will also house its Black Tennis Hall of Fame.
“We chose Fort Lauderdale as the site because it is a location that many of our members love,” Scott said. “We have enjoyed the hospitality of this friendly city.”
The association is currently holding its 96th annual National Tennis Championships which started Sunday and runs through this Saturday at different locations in Fort Lauderdale.
The events this year will also include induction of major black players into the Black Tennis Hall of Fame. Inductees will include John Lucas, an All-American tennis player; Virginia Glass, the ATA’s first female president; Bessie Stockard, winner of the first ATA National Women’s title in 1971; and Sydney Llewellyn, who has coached some of the world’s top players over the years.
The ATA website traces the organization’s origin to Nov. 30, 1916, when representatives from several black tennis clubs met in Washington, D.C., to discuss the matter in the context of racism that prevented blacks from competing in the sport and also being accommodated in hotels, especially in the South.
The United States Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA), formed in 1881 as the umbrella organization for the sport, banned black players from its competitions. That ban led the Association Tennis Club of Washington, D.C,, and the Monumental Tennis Club of Baltimore to come up with the idea of a black organization.
The ATA said most black professional players were trained at its affiliated clubs before turning pro and the association boasts of a long history of developing young players and providing its members with the opportunity to compete in its National Championships which offer more than 50 competitive categories for players aged 8 to 80.