Bob Davis

Panelist: History of the ATA and Black Tennis

Born in New York City during segregation, Bob was introduced to tennis at the age of 8. Because of his color, he was not permitted to play in USLTA tournaments, but there was an alternative, the American Tennis Association (ATA).
The ATA was created in 1916 to provide a competitive and networking venue for minorities. During the 1950 and early 60’s, Bob became a 2-time ATA National Champion; winning the ATA Junior National title and the Men's Doubles title with his brother, Hall-of-Famer Bill Davis. A hitting partner for Hall of Famer Althea Gibson and a Life member of the ATA, he competed in the U.S. National Championships (U.S. Open) at Forest Hills and was a USTA Mixed Doubles National Champion in 2006. Off the court, Bob leased the largest private tennis club in New York State in the '70s and managed his family-owned sleep-over tennis Academy in the 80's. He then helped to create and was National Program Director for the Ashe/Bollettieri "Cities" Tennis Program (ABC), which later became the Arthur Ashe Safe Passage Foundation.

As CEO, this program introduced tennis to more than 20,000 inner-city children and provided health screenings, tutoring and academic support to these children in 10 U.S. cites across America. Once the Safe Passage Foundation closed its doors, Bob created Black Dynamics, Inc., which offered scholarships to the most talented minority youth to the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy. The founding belief of Black Dynamics was that youngsters needed world-class competition in order to reach world-class performance. Two alumni of Black Dynamics represented the United States on the Federation Cup Team. Bob then created the Panda Foundation, Inc. (www.thepandafoundation.com). The Panda Foundation, modeled after the wildly successful Safe Passage Foundation, provides introductory tennis instruction to more than 500 urban youth each year.
These under-served youth also receive dental and health related services as well as mentoring by local professionals. All Panda programs are free to the children. Bob co-wrote Nick Bollettieri’s autobiography, “Bollettieri – Changing the Game” and continues to write barter articles for Nick. These tennis-related articles are used in exchange for advertising in their tennis magazines. Bob also coaches professional players and, in 2014, was added to the coaching delegation of the Jamaican Davis Cup Team. He was inducted into the ATA’s New England Tennis Association Hall of Fame in 2006, the Black Tennis Hall of Fame in August, 2014 and was inducted into the Tampa Bay Tennis Hall of Fame in December, 2014. Bob is the father of two daughters, Tanya and Robyn. Tanya is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West point and Robyn has a Masters degree from Bentley College in Boston. Bob’s life mission has been, and continues to be, giving to youngsters some of the life-changing opportunities that were given to him. Teaching Tennis and Changing Lives!