Monday, February 4, 2013

The USTA is not Color Blind

     As we enter Black History Month it is clear that we must remain vigilant in the continued quest for equality for people of color. This past September (2012) the USTA created another controversy when they suggested that world number one 16 year old Girls singles champion Taylor Townsend skip the US Open event for which she qualified for and work on conditioning. She is being trained under the USTA Player Development Program.
     Initially they said that If she did not withdraw from the event that they would not pay for her expenses. Her mother wold have none of this and came up with the expense money for her to compete in the tournament. She got to the quarter finals in singles and won the doubles event with her partner. How could she reach being number one without stamina and conditioning? Oh she happens to be African American. In a later statement after the tournament Patrick McEnroe, General Manager of the program issued a statement that  this was not the case and USTA under  Player Development would be picking up her expenses for the tournament. 

     Having worked on the USTA Minority Participation Committee at its inception in the early 1990's now changed to Multicultural Participation Committee, I can identify with some of the archaic and out of date thinking of some long time entrenched closed minded people within the organization. As in other parts of society African Americans continue to be undervalued, underestimated and marginalized.

Taylor Townsend
     Early in her career I remember an over weight and slow afoot Lindsay Davenport enjoying early success as  Girl's Junior Champion. Their was no suggestion that she skip big tournaments because of her condition. In a competitive situation I thought the adage of "Survival of the fittest" determines the out come of competitive sports. Who determines if some one is fit? Does body type enter the picture on the Women's Pro Tour?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

New Crop of African American Tennis players invade Pro Tour

Sloane Stephens
A new crop of African American females have invaded the pro tennis tour. Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys, and Taylor Townsend to name a few. Sloane Stephens just ended an incredible run at the season's first Gland Slam event, the 2013 Australian Open, where she won a quarter final match against a ailing and sub-par Serena Williams and lost in the semi finals to world number one Victoria Azarenka 6 - 1, 6- 4. Leading 5-4 in the second set Azarenka took a 10 minute injury time out leaving the court on Stephens turn to serve. Although allowed in the rules it was very suspect as it appeared that she was coming  apart with nerves. Sloane learned her first lesson in gamesmanship. In a post match interview Azarenka admitted to a case of nerves and anxiety. Madison Keys made it to the second round in the same tournament, her first Grand Slam event.

Madison Keys
Taylor Townsend
Taylor Townsend just 16 years old is the number one female junior in the world. The future looks very bright on the female side. When will the male African Americans enter the scene? The last to show promise Donald Young seems to be in a serious funk after a disappointing 2012. Time is not on his side as he is now in his 20's and the window for success is closing.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Bernie Chavis Book Signing

I will be attending the annual Black History & Culture Showcase Saturday and Sunday April 7-8,2012 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center 11: am to 7:00 pm both days.. This event commemorates and celebrates the African American experience. It offers living and past African American history from every walk of life in telling and showing the African American diaspora. I will be on hand to autograph copies of my book "The Games of Tennis" An African American Journey. This event attracts thousands annually. For additional information visit the website at

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Black Tennis Foundation of Philadelphia, Inc. Donates Trophies to Yeadon Delaware Country, PA. Tennis Program

Philadelphia, PA. - 08/15/2011 - Bernard A. Chavis, President/CEO of the Black Tennis Foundation, donates tennis trophies to Yeadon Borough Mayor Dolores Jones Butler on behalf of Corneilia "Sis" Penn, a long time player and supporter of the sport. Yeadon is in the process of planning to build a multi-purpose recreation facility. The USTA is one of the partnering organizations assisting with the project.

The site of the proposed facility is the old Yeadon Swim Club property. A summer tennis program for youth is being conducted on the two existing tennis courts by local instructor Jeffrey Harmon. Mayor Butler said, "the trophy donation is part of many positive efforts and gifts forthcoming by supporters of the project.

Kitty Perrin, USTA/MS Tennis Services Representative has also been supportive in offering tennis equipment and expertise for the USTA 10 and under tennis initiative. When completed the multi-purpose facility will serve surrounding communities including Lansdowne, Darby, and Alden. The facility will have a total of 12 tennis courts, 4 indoor and 8 outdoor courts and occupy part of the 6 acre tract that once housed the Yeadon Swim Club.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tennis: A Social and Cultural Bridge Builder

The Borough of Yeadon Delaware County, PA is a small ever evolving diverse community suburb of the city of Philadelphia, Pa. It wasn’t always that way. In the late
1950’s and early 1960’s the community was partially segregated. Black people who applied for membership to the All White Yeadon Swim Club were denied membership. The constant denials lead to a group of local business people and residents to come together and form the Nile Swim club.

The venture became the first owned and operated Black swim club in the United States at the time, gaining much notoriety and news headlines around the country. It was a thriving entity for many, many years. It survives barely in today’s struggling economy. On the other hand the former All White Yeadon Swim Club is now defunct having fallen on hard times and a depressed economy.

This six acre property was purchased by the Borough a few years ago for back taxes. In its day it had an Olympic sized swimming pool, club house picnic grounds and two tennis courts. Enter Jeffrey Harmon a Yeadon resident from Liberia Africa and a Tennis instructor who is also the founder for the Community Integration Program in Yeadon.

The Borough has a sizable African and African American population. Over the year’s friction because of cultural differences built up. Mr. Harmon thought that tennis might be a way to ease tensions and begin a dialog of understanding. He hoped to use the Community Integration Program as a vehicle to bring the two groups together.

He contacted Mr. Roy Hunter the Recreation Manager for the Borough and requested to use the two decaying and unused tennis courts at the Yeadon Swim Club property to bring the sport of tennis to the youth in the community. Mr. Hunter indicated that the sport of tennis had not been visible in this suburban community for a number of years. Hunter remembered a discussion he had with me after my book signing of “The Games of Tennis” An African American Journey at the Yeadon Library in March, 2010, where I indicated that I had some tennis resources to help with the project through the Black Tennis Foundation of Philadelphia, Inc.

I contacted Kitty Perrin a Tennis Services Representative for the USTA/Middle States Tennis Association. Together we planned a USTA Tennis “Block Party” for May 22,
2010. The Black Tennis Foundation furnished free tennis racquets. T-Shirts and Tennis Caps USTA offered “Quick Start” tennis short courts and wrist bands. The Yeadon Recreation Department contributed bottled water, the facility at the Yeadon Swim Club property and the circulation of flyers at key locations in the community of the upcoming event.

The event was a smashing success. Those attending included a mixture up African and African American parents and youth. The two groups mingled freely, communicated and started an informal dialog that is the start of bridging and understanding of the different cultures and backgrounds. The Mayor of Yeadon Borough, Dolores Jones Butler a forward thinking individual learned of Arthur Ashe Kids Day at the US Open Tennis Championships in New York and initiated a bus trip for the youth that participated in the Tennis “Block Party.”

The youth and the Mayor along with some of the parents and tennis instructor Jeffery Harmon made the trip and had the wonderful experience of seeing this event. Louis Bolling, a Yeadon resident who resided in South Africa for a number of years, held tennis clinics for youth on the Nile Swim Clubs two tennis courts during the summer in conjunction with the programs that were held at the old Yeadon Swim Club property.

Mayor Butler, with the unanimous approval of the Borough Council is now planning to use part of the old Yeadon Swim Club tract to reconstruct the tennis courts and refurbish the club house with the help of the USTA, who has a program to assist communities who are promoting the sport of tennis. The benefits of playing the sport of tennis often reach beyond the physical aspects of the sport.

(see photo show)