Alex Lee, president of Wichita’s McAdams Tennis Foundation and Coach of the Friends University Men’s Tennis Team, has garnered some honors of his own. Last month, Lee won both the Men’ 60 plus Singles Title and the Men’s 60 plus Doubles Title at the American Tennis Association’s National Championships in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
The Double’s title was a repeat for Lee and his partner Gregory Fleming of Memphis. The duo won the Men’s 55 Plus National Title in 2011.
This year’s tournament was historic, with the American Tennis Association celebrating its 100th Anniversary. The ATA was founded in 1916 after the United States Lawn Tennis Association issued a policy statement formally barring African-American tennis players from its competitions. The first National ATA Championships were held the following year.
The ATA helped groom and develop the early African American professional tennis players including Arthur Ashe, Althea Gibson, Lori McNeal and Zina Garrison. As access to the United States Tennis Association was opened to African Americans, participation in the ATA began to decrease. However, as the oldest African-American sports organization currently in existence, the organization remains viable and active.
Participation in the ATA Championship tournament reached as high as 1500 in the 1990s. This year, the tournament still attracted an impressive 500 adult and junior players.
Lee says the tournament is a favorite for players and coaches from Historically Black Colleges and Universities. While many of the HBCU coaches play in the tournament, they also use the tournament to recruit future players.
Although Lee has been attending the ATA Championships for 25 years, this was his first single’s title. He was introduced to the organization by Wichitan Buddy McGilbray, who has competed in and won several ATA Singles titles.
While Lee plays in the ATA tournament, he also actively participates with the USTA. For the past 10 years, he’s served on the executive board of the USTA’s Missouri Valley Region. He’s currently vice-president of that board.