THE PHILADELPHIA TRIBUNE: West Philadelphia Native Frank Adams To Be Inducted Into The Black Tennis Hall Of Fame

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February 21, 2021

THE PHILADELPHIA TRIBUNE: West Philadelphia Native Frank Adams To Be Inducted Into The Black Tennis Hall Of Fame

 Writer/Credits:  Mr. Donald Hunt /


Frank Adams, who grew up playing tennis in West Philadelphia, will be inducted into the Black Tennis Hall of Fame. Adams will be enshrined as a regional legend at the annual induction ceremony for the Classes of 2020 and 2021 July 2-3. The ceremony will take place at the Sportsmen’s Tennis & Enrichment Center in Dorchester, Mass. 


Adams, who was the first African American President of the Colorado Tennis Association, and Intermountain Tennis Association USTA Section, paving the way for Colorado and section leaders. As chair of the Colorado and ITA Minority Participation Committee, he recruited and mentored African Americans to volunteer for the USTA Committees. 


Adams knows the value of getting volunteers involved in the game as well as playing tennis on the grassroots level. That’s here his career took off as a player.


“I look at it as part of a journey that helped me along,” said Adams, a St. Joseph’s Prep alumnus. “I couldn’t have arrived at this point without all the mentors that helped me out from the times I first started playing tennis.


“Bill Johnson in Philadelphia at Shepard Recreation Center [57th and Haverford Avenue] all the way through Allen Kiel and here in Colorado who helped me become president of the Intermountain Section, which is Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. It takes up five stats.


“I lived in West Philly. The background of this was I grew up playing ping pong in the basement of some of my friends in West Philly. One summer I went away and came back at the end of the summer. The tennis courts had been built over at Haddington [now Shepard Recreation Center]. My friends were all playing and they invited me to play. I knew nothing about it. I went over and played with my friends. They left and never came back. I just stayed.”


Adams continued to work on his game. Through hard work, practice and good coaching he developed a great deal of interest in the sport. He read several books on tennis. He gained a strong appeal for tennis. Although he ran cross country, indoor and outdoor track at St. Joseph’s Prep, he really enjoyed playing tennis.


“I just found people that would hit with me every day after school,” Adams said. “Every day I would go over there and knew nothing about what I was doing. I read every book that I could. I read every book at the Philadelphia central Library. Then, I taught myself how to play tennis.


“Then, one summer about maybe nine months after I first started playing. I came over to the tennis courts and there was coach Bill Johnson. He was a legendary coach in Philadelphia who started many tennis careers for the youth of Philadelphia. Bill Johnson said this guy can play let him try out for the team. That started everything.


Twice a week, I would practice over at the tennis courts. In between that, I would spend literally hours from the time the sun came up until the sun went down. I would be on those courts playing with friends.”


Adams feels The National Junior Tennis League (NJTL) was a good springboard for many African American kids in Philly. The program created opportunities youngsters to compete in tennis in their own community.


“I think the important thing was the NJTL,” Adams said. “The National Junior Tennis League started by Arthur Ashe and Charlie Pasarell and Sheridan Snyder. I think that was about ‘69 [1969]. Their mission was to take a country club sport and bring it to the streets.


“That’s what they were trying to do and give us lessons and give us structure. The code of conduct was very important. It was one of the first things we learned. We played league matches once a week. Rec [Recreation] Centers in West Philly and North Philly that’s where my competition was. We really didn’t have tournament maybe one or two.”


Adams got involved with coaching at a young age. It was a great experience for him, which set a good foundation for his career down the road.


 “I really started off my career teaching tennis than playing tennis and also communicating with other people and sharing ideas,” Adams said. “That was the most important thing. I coached track and field. I did coach at 18 during the Black Olympics. I coached the Philadelphia team in ping pong and in tennis at the 1976 Black Olympics.”


Today, Adams, 63, is married and resides in Aurora, CO.. He is the head tennis pro at the Highlands Ranch Community Association in Highlands Ranch, CO. In addition, he has a tennis program titled “Star Search”, which gives opportunities to minorities at a reduced cost in the Intermountain Zonal Team. He’s involved with wheelchair tennis the Professional Tennis Registry to help others with teaching the game.


“For me the most important thing was I read every book on tennis in the Philadelphia Central Library,” Adams said. “I studied every tennis magazine I could get my hands on. Then, on the weekends I would watch PBS and Vic Braden, a very famous coach on TV. he had a show “Tennis for the Future.


“I learned so much about teaching tennis and how to play tennis that it was basic for all my experiences in tennis. At an early age, as I was teaching myself how to play. I was teaching the other kids how to play, too.”


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