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The 125th Anniversary of the Origin of the USTA

May 22, 2006 11:54 PM

From Franklin R. Johnson, Chairman of the Board & President and Lee Hamilton, Executive Director & COO

On Sunday, May 21, 2006, we observed the 125th anniversary of the founding of our organization. It was on that day in 1881 that representatives from 19 tennis clubs (joined by proxies from another 15) met in Room F of the Fifth Avenue Hotel in Manhattan to form an association, the purpose of which would be to adopt standard rules and equipment for tennis in the United States. The represented clubs were all from northeastern states-the most westerly was from Pittsburgh. During the meeting, the attendees adopted a constitution, elected officers (with General R.S. Oliver as President), and selected an Executive Committee to establish an official ball for tournaments and begin the development of standard rules. They also adopted a name for the new organization, calling it the United States National Lawn Tennis Association.

Our organization has come far since that day 125 years ago and we have undergone many changes. We have changed our name twice, first in 1920 to the United States Lawn Tennis Association, and then to the United States Tennis Association in 1975. We were recognized as the governing body for the sport of tennis by U.S. Federal courts in 1942 and then again by the U.S. Olympic Committee under the auspices of the Amateur Sports Act of 1978. We have gone from hosting amateurs-only tournaments to the era of open tennis. We have acquired a professional staff while maintaining volunteerism as the central aspect of our governance and policy structure. We have evolved from an association of elitist and whites-only tennis clubs located in a limited section of the nation to a truly national organization of 17 Sections that is totally inclusive welcomes and reaches out to individuals and groups of all ages and abilities from diverse backgrounds throughout the United States. We also formed the USTA Tennis and Education Foundation to increase the amount we contribute to fund programs that assist at-risk children to enrich their lives through both tennis and education. We have expanded our mission from merely making standard rules and holding tournaments to promoting the growth and development of tennis.

We should celebrate our rich heritage, our willingness to grow and adapt, and our bright prospects. The USTA is made up of some terrific people with whom we have all formed wonderful friendships. I know we are all proud to be a part of the United States Tennis Association-125 years young and looking ahead to the future. On behalf of all USTA volunteers and staff we thank you for all you have done to make our organization what it is today. Let us all join together in wishing the USTA a happy 125th birthday.

Please click here to read more about the origins of tennis and the USTA.




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