South Florida chapter leaders of Kappa Alpha Psi have pledged support for the development of a permanent home in Fort Lauderdale for the American Tennis Association (ATA), the oldest sports organization for African Americans in the U.S. The fraternity is also partnering with the ATA and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau (GFLCVB) for the Centennial Celebration of the ATA in Fort Lauderdale in 2016.

Kappa Alpha Psi is linked with the legacy of the ATA, which has been a training ground for many of the world's top players including the late Arthur Ashe, the first black player ever selected to the U.S. Davis Cup team to be ranked number one and the only black man to ever win the singles titles at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open. Ashe was a Kappa.

The ATA, founded in 1916 in Washington, D.C. to create a circuit of clubs and tournaments for Black tennis players excluded from the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association, has remained in the forefront of the sport, challenging the racial barriers of segregation, cultivating promising young talent, and providing a vital social network for African American professionals.

ATA founders were key forces behind negotiations that led, in 1950, to Althea Gibson becoming the first Black to ever compete in the U.S. National Championship at Forest Hills - and other ATA champions followed. Most African American professional tennis players received training and experience in ATA clubs and tournaments before turning pro, opening the door for contemporary young Black stars such as Serena and Venus Williams who were not a product of the ATA but have been supportive of the organization, making appearances and encouraging young players to pursue their tennis goals.

Plans for the new ATA headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, designed by V-Interiors, co-owned by Serena Williams, include a National Training Facility to develop young talent and a Black Tennis Hall of Fame in the historic Black Sistrunk community in Fort Lauderdale.

The ATA's annual National Championships relocated to the area in 2012. The 97th annual tournament will be held Aug. 3-9 as part of what has now become the Black Tennis Summer Family Reunion event. Over 3,000 amateur tennis players and their families and tennis enthusiasts are expected at the largest tournament in the U.S. which has become a tradition promoting togetherness.

U.S. Congressman Alcee Hastings, also a Kappa brother, has expressed support for the Black Tennis initiative and recognition at the federal level.

In addition to the Black tennis initiative, Greater Fort Lauderdale continues to draw high-profile Black groups for conferences, including the 100 Black Men of America in July and the National Urban League in 2015. For more information and interviews, contact Albert Tucker, Vice President of Multicultural Business Development, Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, 954-767-2456, atucker@broward.org

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