The Awareness and Fundraising Campaign for the American Tennis Association’s National Training Facility kicks off this month in Miramar, and the excitement is not reserved for players and enthusiasts of the sport.
The ATA, the oldest African American sports organization in the United States, and the American Tennis and Education Foundation (ATEF), the ATA’s nonprofit fundraising arm, have joined with an impressive group of partners to launch a building project emphasizing family fun, educational opportunities, and historical preservation and also boosting economic development and tourism in Greater Fort Lauderdale.
The annual ATA National Championships draw thousands of players ages 8 to 80 and fans for matches and vacationing family groups also enjoy the special events during that period. The ATEF conducts a year-round Junior Tennis Program that also offers mentoring and presentations by successful athletes and business people and connections to academic and athletic scholarships at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The focus on youth participation, especially outreach to Black males, is attracting support from Black Greek organizations, including the 150,000-member Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, and the 200,000-member Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Legendary tennis greats Arthur Ashe – who was a Kappa – and Althea Gibson – who was an AKA – got their start in the ATA.
Visitors to the facility will be able to tour the Black Tennis Hall of Fame, view historic memorabilia, and learn more about the sport. The site will also serve as a repository of information on the 102-year-old ATA and the relationship of tennis to HBCUs, Black organizations, and the surrounding Caribbean Region.
The national significance of the ATA/ATEF Awareness and Fundraising Campaign is reflected in the high-profile partners that are already involved. For instance, Greater Fort Lauderdale is the top destination of choice for African American travelers, and the new tennis facility will make the area the epicenter for Black tennis, expanding the multicultural tourism product, according to Albert Tucker, the CVB’s Vice President for Multicultural Business Development.
Establishing the ATA headquarters in the culturally-diverse western suburb of Miramar will further enhance the city’s profile as an active recreational family-oriented community.
In addition, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) is assisting the project with technical support and marketing; V*Starr Productions, co-owned by Venus Williams, is the lead design team for the facility and hotel development; and Black Enterprise magazine has come onboard as media partner with access to the Top 30 Black national corporations.