The United States Tennis Association: Raising the Game

The United States Tennis Association: Raising the Game

The United States Tennis Association: Raising the Game

The United States Tennis Association: Raising the Game

Synopsis

The United States Tennis Association is an in-depth look at the history of the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and how this sports organization has helped cultivate and organize tennis in the United States over the past 135 years. Starting as a group of elite white men from country clubs in the Northeast, the organization has become the largest tennis association in the world, with women in top leadership positions and an annual revenue of well over $300 million. The USTA was key in establishing the Open Era in tennis in 1968, when professionals began competing with amateurs in Grand Slam events; for expanding the game in the United States during the 1970s tennis boom; and for establishing the U.S. Open as one of the most prestigious and largest-attended sports events in the world.

Unique among sports-governing bodies, the USTA is a mostly volunteer-run organization that, along with a paid professional staff, manages and governs tennis at the local level across the United States and owns and operates the U.S. Open. The association participates directly in the International Tennis Federation, manages U.S. participation in international tennis competitions (Fed Cup and Davis Cup), and interacts with professional tennis within the United States. The story of how tennis is managed by the nation's largest cadre of volunteers in any sport is one of sports' best untold stories.

With access to the private records of the USTA, Warren F. Kimball tells an engaging and rich history of how tennis has been managed and governed in the United States.

Excerpt

Dave Haggerty

I am honored that Warren Kimball asked me to write the foreword for his history of the USTA—the United States Tennis Association. I have known Warren Kimball for over thirty years, and of course, tennis was the connector. I was a junior playing tennis in the Philadelphia section of Middle States when I first became aware of Warren. He was already on his way to becoming a big wig in the United States Tennis Association and Middle States Section.

Warren has an extensive and intimate knowledge of the usta on many fronts including president of usta Middle States, usta Davis Cup Committee cochair, and four years on the usta board of directors.

At my first board meeting when I joined the usta board of directors in 2007, I learned that there was a usta history project that was under the direction of Warren Kimball, a long-serving volunteer and noted historian and archivist.

I was a longtime usta member who joined when I was six years old (back then it was the USLTA—United States Lawn Tennis Association) and soon began playing sanctioned tournaments. Eventually I spent over thirty-five years in the tennis industry working for many of the top tennis brands. Nevertheless, I became aware that despite my “intimate” knowledge of tennis, I had absolutely no understanding of the history of the usta. This intrigued me, and I began to look for a way to gain a greater understanding of the governing body, the organization responsible for growing, promoting, and developing tennis in the United States.

When I was usta president, I said that at times the usta was perceived as the eight-hundred-pound gorilla that “mandated” or “dictated” its vision of what was best for American tennis. But there is also the other side of the coin where the usta does so many positive things to grow the diversity of tennis, bringing it to juniors who never would have the opportunity to learn the life lessons that only tennis can teach, and administering and coordinating tournaments and league competition for seven hundred thousand players annually through its seventeen sections, states, and districts.

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