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Tennis event to shed a light on the history of African-American tennis in our community

Tennis event to shed a light on the history of African-American tennis in our community
Posted By: Reggie Culpepper on October 20, 2020

It would be difficult to underestimate the key role our area has played in the history of American-American tennis. Richard Williams, the father of the two greatest sisters ever to play the game, grew up in Shreveport’s Cedar Grove neighborhood. Richard’s success with his daughters Venus and Serena inspired countless other parents to view tennis as something they too should offer their kids.

Maybe the kids would get good at it. Maybe they could go to college because of it. And if they were really fortunate, maybe they could even make a career out of it.
On October 22nd at Bill Cockrell Tennis Center, the team behind the City Tennis Tournament is hosting an event to shed a light on the rich history of African-American tennis in our community. The event will consist of a number of people with local ties that used tennis as their ticket to go to college and to build careers.

“There is a great history of African-American tennis in our area and the present is extremely bright too,” explains Jeffrey Goodman, one of the organizers of the event. “In fact, three of the very best players right now in our area are African-American.



We want to take the opportunity to make more people aware of some of the wonderful things happening right now with African-American tennis in our community.”

For example, this past Summer, with the assistance of SPAR and Mayor Perkins’ office, Erik Graves the new Director of Tennis at Bill Cockrell Tennis Center was able to offer a youth tennis program at no cost to participants. The program drew more than 100 kids per day.

Explaining his vision for the future of Bill Cockrell Tennis Center, Graves said, “Ultimate goal is multi-faceted. Big time community program that truly addresses every player of the community and surrounding areas and of all levels.” As part of that vision, Graves described that he would like to achieve a vibrant junior program with tournament players and a trade program so kids can learn to coach, string racquets and manage a facility.

There will be a number of speakers beginning at 5:30PM including Mayor Adrian Perkins, Ken Myers, Grambling University Head Tennis Coach and Erik Graves, Director of Tennis at Bill Cockrell Tennis Center. Then there will be two courts of tennis played simultaneously beginning at 6PM. On one court there will be current University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff player Ariel Zena Graves versus local tennis standout Paris Washington. The other court will feature a doubles match between Ken Myers and Bossier Tennis Center Director of Tennis Todd Killen versus Erik Graves and former LSU player John Gray Pou.

Admission is free to the public. Free pizza and snow cones.

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