Art Carrington

Panelist: History of the ATA & Black Tennis

In 1972, Carrington made history by participating in the first televised ATA Men’s Singles Championship match. He lost an incredibly close five set match to Horace Reid that was televised on Boston Public Television. Legendary broadcaster Bud Collins was the color commentator for that historic match. Carrington may have lost that match, however, he went on to win the ATA Men’s Singles Championship in 1973. He was an extremely talented player who was a frequent practice partner of Arthur Ashe. In addition, throughout Carrington’s professional tennis career, he competed against and/or practiced with legendary players Bjorn Borg, Vitas Gerulaitis, Rod Laver and other top professional tennis players at the time. In addition, he coached Vera Zvonareva who, under his tutelage became the number 2 women’s tennis player in the world.

Carrington was recruited to Hampton College (now Hampton University) because of his tennis skills and, in 1965, became the first student to receive a full athletic scholarship. In 1966, his freshman year, he lost in the finals of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Championship. However, he went on to win the CIAA Championship three years in a row. After graduating from Hampton in 1968, Carrington became the first head tennis pro hired at the Westfield Indoor Tennis Club in Westfield, New Jersey.

Carrington was a tennis legend on the tennis court because of his smooth tennis strokes. However, since retiring from professional tournament play, he has become one of the best known black tennis historians. His enthusiasm for black tennis history is contagious. He currently has the largest collection of “Negro Newspapers” covering the ATA National Championship. Carrington, also made history by co-curating, with Dale G. Caldwell, the International Tennis Hall of Fame (ITHF) touring exhibit on black tennis history called “Breaking the Barriers.” This exhibit, which includes an award winning film and debuted at the 2007 US Open where 35,000 people saw it, is the first major exhibit to chronicle the history of black tennis from the late 1800s to the 1970s. It has become the most successful touring exhibit in ITHF history. In 2009, Carrington published the book Black Tennis, An Archival Collection: 1890-1962. This popular book featured fascinating newspaper accounts of the ATA, tennis pioneers and black tennis clubs.

Carrington is currently the President of the New England Tennis Association (NETA). He runs the Carrington Tennis Academy based at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. Since founding the tennis camp in 1980, the academy has helped more than 2,000 students improve their tennis skills.