The 21st edition of the HBCU National Tennis Championships concluded play over the weekend, marking the first year the event was sanctioned by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), the governing body of college tennis.
“The HBCU National Tennis Championships is great,” said Tuskegee University’s Head Men’s and Women’s Tennis Coach, Gregory L. Green Sr.
“It allows the players to compete with one another, fellowship with one another and the program is a classic, classic program,” Green stated emphatically.
Hosted by the City of South Fulton at its Department of Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs’ South Fulton Tennis Center, the organizing committee take pride in providing Historically Black Colleges and Universities the opportunity to compete during the fall semester.
“It’s been a beautiful few days,” said Florida A&M University’s Director of Tennis, Rochelle “Nikki” Houston.
“A lot of matches have been going on. It’s been a great tournament, it’s something that everyone should come out and see,” said Houston, the 2007 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Coach of the Year.
Founded by former Florida A&M University Head Men’s Tennis Coach, Dr. Carl Goodman, the long-standing event provides student-athletes the opportunity to meet, compete, and earn the title of National Champions.
“The experience has been nothing but amazing,” said Dr. Tara Turner, Head Women’s Tennis Coach at Clark Atlanta University.
“It is an honor and a privilege to be able to be amongst other likeminded tennis folks who represent our institutions.”
“We’re thankful to South Fulton Tennis Center for hosting us and excited for the next years to come,” said Turner.
Prior to the start of the Championships, the City of South Fulton’s Chamber of Commerce hosted a VIP reception welcoming coaches, supporters and local dignitaries.
The United States Tennis Association, a major sponsor of the Championships, hosted a Careers in Tennis session for collegiate student-athletes on Day 2 and a recruiting showcase on Day 3 for high school students seeking to play on the university level.
“It’s a really good opportunity to be seen by coaches from different states and all over the world,” said 16-year-old Brooke Smalls, a Georgia native and member of the Class of 2024.
17-year-old Tyler Ladge, who “plans to go to an HBCU” upon graduating next year, produced a strong showing during the organized match play arranged for the recruiting showcase participants.
Nearly 40 high schoolers participated in the day-long combine that featured a presentation by Arise Athletes, a Georgia-based nonprofit that provides services guiding students throughout the process of becoming a collegiate student-athlete.
“We’re going to be looking at the high school players that are here,” said Coach Houston.
Over three sun filled days, 10 Men’s and 15 Women’s teams competed in singles and doubles play. In the end, Alabama State University’s Men’s team and Xavier University of Louisiana’s Women’s claimed the 2022 titles. A longtime National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) powerhouse, Xavier University of Louisiana’s Women’s program repeated as team champion.