Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority (AKA) has been linked with the success of Black tennis since the founding of the American Tennis Association (ATA) in 1916. So it seems fitting that AKA has joined in a partnership with the oldest African American recreational sports organization in the U.S. to preserve the history and promote the future of Black tennis, especially for youth.
Alpha Kappa Alpha chapter leaders in the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County area have announced support for making the area the new permanent home for the ATA with the building of a National Training Facility and a Tennis Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale's historic African American Sistrunk community.
The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau is aligning with AKA, and other Greek organizations with national board members who reside in South Florida, for this unique Black tennis tourism initiative that supports recreational tennis, the training of future professional players, and the emerging development of the city's historic Black community.
The AKA-ATA links goes back over 90 years. Noted educator and college administrator Lucy Diggs Slowe, one of the founders of AKA, participated in the ATA's first amateur tournament in 1917 and won the national title. Soror Althea Gibson, who was the first Black to win the Grand Slam title in 1956 and has been referred to as "the Jackie Robinson of tennis," received her early training in programs run by the ATA which led to her professional career.
The ATA already has a Fort Lauderdale presence, offering a week of summer activities for all ages where people can enjoy tennis matches and workshops, cultural events and an urban experience in a resort atmosphere. For the third year, over 3,000 amateur tennis players and their families and tennis enthusiasts will gather Aug. 3-9 for what is touted as the Black Tennis Summer Family Reunion, highlighted by the 97th annual National Championships - the largest tournament in the U.S. The event has become a tradition promoting togetherness.
"We are developing partnerships to re-engage and expose Greek chapters to tennis and to promote and support the ATA's efforts," said Albert Tucker, Vice President of Multicultural Business Development for the GFLCVB. 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.
- Kitty Oliver