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The History

The ATA Junior Development Program was established by Robert Walter 'Whirlwind' Johnson in 1951. The training was held at Dr. Johnson's home in Lynchburg, Virginia where he had a tennis court built in his backyard. 


Each summer, dozens of talented juniors trained in his backyard. The juniors traveled the country winning titles and making history.  In 1953 (Arthur Ashe's first year at the camp) , the United States Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA) extended an invitation to Dr. Johnson's team to play the nationals at Kalamazoo using ATA credentials. That same summer, tennis player Bobby Riggs conducted a clinic on Dr. Johnson's court.


The camp was open to all races, embracing diversity as an integral part of the mission of the ATA. Without Dr. Johnson's guidance and mentorship of the ATA Junior Development Program in the early years, Gibson, Ashe, and countless other African American youth would have been denied the opportunity to play tennis.  For more than two decades, Dr. Johnson trained, coached, and mentored junior players to reach their full potential.   


Our Mission

To harnessing the power of tennis to promote the education, health, and wellness of underserved youth to create the next generation of tennis heroes and community leaders



As we move into the next 100 years, we realize the importance of inspiring youth that lives in inner cities and rural areas to play tennis. Some studies show that skills and strategies developed while playing tennis will serve a person well into life off the courts. Among all adolescent tennis players in the U.S., black youths constitute only 9%.  Our goal is to increase the participation of youth living in diverse communities by introducing and supporting players wherever they are in their journey. 

To achieve this we offer the following programs:

Junior's Day

One Day at our Nationals specifically dedicated to our Junior Players:

  • Player Development Seminars for juniors and parents

  • Player College Readiness seminars and information

  • Exposure to college coaches

  • Clinics with coaches

  • Community Play Day - Introduction to Tennis

  • Junior celebration events

Hero's Fund

Our Hero Fund provides support to our Junior Players in a variety of ways:

  • Scholarships to an HBCU

  • Funding for equipment

  • Assistance with Junior Development

Educational Webinars

Throughout the year, we provide free webinars to our juniors covering topics such as history in tennis, player development, physical and mental health, college readiness, and advice for playing at the next level. 

Junior Excel Program

Our Excel Program provides access to the best coaches and resources through our sections and clubs. Additionally, it provides financial assistance for tournament travel for youth from under-served communities and college prep workshops for juniors and their parents.   Also, grants to ATA clubs to support local junior programs.    

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