College Park, Ga. – This is certainly a memorable year in the game of tennis with both Serena Williams and Roger Federer announcing their retirement, respectively. A sport deemed to be for the elites of white society, the players involved in the 21st annual HBCU National Tennis Championship this past weekend in College Park demonstrate why the game belongs to each and every one of us.
Launched in 2001, the tournament was conceived for Historically Black Colleges and Universities to have the opportunity to kick off their student-athletes’ school year by competing in a highly competitive tournament-style event. This year’s tournament took place from September 15th through the 18th at the South Fulton Tennis Center. Over 10 HBCUs from as far away as Xavier University of Louisiana and Dillard University and Florida A&M, came to the meteor Atlanta to participate. Benedict College, Tuskegee University and local favorite Clark Atlanta University were also in attendance.
Dr. Tara Turner, head coach for Clark Atlanta University’s tennis team spoke with The Atlanta Voice about what the tournament had to offer, “This is exciting. We are all excited to be here,” she said. “15 years ago this would not have been possible. There are so many great players out here, it’s just beautiful to see.”
The HBCU National Tennis Championships have enabled schools to showcase their players and help them in launching careers in tennis. Several former HBCU standout players who have competed in the championships went on to play professionally or become coaches. Noel
Wadawu, who coached 2009 US Open quarterfinalist, Melanie Oudin, and then Le’Trone Mason, who is currently the head women’s tennis coach at Georgia State University.
Each of these historic institutions are looking to go home with the gold and the competition is stacked wall to wall with players eager to test their skills on the court. The players
display their best with their training out in full. Gregory Green, head coach for Tuskegee University spoke on the unifying purpose of the tournament,
“This is a great atmosphere and opportunity for HBCUs to compete in fellowship,” he said. “This is our second year and it has been very beneficial. There is great competition out here. We are a Division 2 school going against Division 1 [programs]. We are fighting, learning, and getting better every day.”
Alabama State University won the men’s championship and the Xavier University (La.) women’s team won a consecutive title.
Jonasz Dziopak from Tennessee State University and Jasmine Boyd representing Alabama A&M University won the men’s and women’s Class-A single championships, respectively.