Lenny Simpson to be inducted into Black Tennis Hall of Fame - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Lenny Simpson to be inducted into Black Tennis Hall of Fame

Press Release

(Wilmington, NC-August 5, 2014) Wilmington native and legendary tennis
professional Lendward "Lenny" Simpson will be inducted into the Black Tennis Hall
of Fame in their annual ceremony in Ft. Lauderdale later in August of 2014.


The Black Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum is a non-for-profit organization
dedicated to preserving the history of African-American tennis and honoring
the contributions of those who achieved success in tennis and life.


"Lenny Simpson has displayed championship qualities for his entire life." Says Robert
Davis, Executive Director of the Black Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum. "From his
accomplishments as a junior champion, to his achievements on the professional tour,
to his work with urban children through his not-for-profit foundation, his life has
been one of selflessness. He is a humanitarian of world-class proportions and I am
proud, no, ecstatic, to be inducted alongside this giant of a man."


Simpson's historic tennis career began in Wilmington in 1953 when at age 5, he was
visiting neighbor Dr. Hubert Eaton's tennis court where Althea Gibson happened to
be practicing. The groundbreaking tennis Grand Slam Champion coaxed him into
playing.


Young Simpson was coached by neighbor Nathaniel Jackson and Dr. Eaton who later
introduced the promising player to Dr. R. Walter Johnson, the lifelong mentor of
Gibson and Arthur Ashe. At age 9, he joined Dr. Johnson's ATA Junior
Development Team and traveled and often roomed with his friend Arthur Ashe on
the predominantly white tennis circuit for almost a decade.


Simpson attended The Hill School and Cheshire Academy on academic and tennis
scholarships and won the National Prep School Championship in 1967.


Simpson was ranked in the top 10 nationally in every age group as a junior in singles
and in doubles. In the early 60's, he won the ATA National Boy's Singles and Doubles
Championships and played the U.S. Open Championships in 1964, 1965 and 1966.
Simpson won the 1964 USLTA Eastern Boys 14 and under singles title at Forest Hills.
Later that same year, at age 15, he became the youngest male to ever play at the U.S.
National Championships at Forest Hills.


While partnered with North Carolina native Bonnie Logan, Simpson won the ATA
National Mixed Doubles title four consecutive times from 1967-1970. He won the
Wilmington City Championships 5 times in singles, twice in doubles once while
partnered with Dr. Hubert Eaton, who is also being inducted posthumously into the
Black Tennis Hall of Fame this year.


After a stellar amateur career, Simpson went on to become a top collegiate player at
East Tennessee State University. Captain of the ETSU tennis team from 1968 – 1972,
Simpson was a quarter finalist at NCAA tournament and played no. 1 in singles and
doubles. He was the Ohio Valley Conference Champion in Singles and Doubles.


Simpson turned professional in 1973 and was the first African-American to play
World Team Tennis for the Detroit Loves. Simpson qualified for Wimbledon in 1974.


Simpson was inducted in the Cheshire Academy Hall of Fame in 1989. He was a part
of the International Tennis Hall of Fame's Breaking the Barrier Tennis Exhibit in
2010, and was inducted into the N.C. Tennis Hall of Fame in 2011 and the Greater
Wilmington Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.


"Of all the accolades, this is the one I cherish the most." Says Simpson of this
induction. "I am humbled to join this Hall of Fame with not only my friends but my
ATA family who came before and after me, who helped pave, as Ashe said, "the hard
road to glory. "


Althea Gibson, Arthur Ashe, Dr. Johnson and the American Tennis Association have
all been inducted into the Black Tennis Hall of Fame. Simpson will also be accepting
the posthumous 2014 honor for the family of Dr. Hubert Eaton.


In early 2013, Simpson moved to back to his hometown of Wilmington, NC and
started The Lenny Simpson Tennis and Education Fund and One Love Tennis, a year
round program for at-risk youth that provides tennis instruction in an environment
that builds self-esteem, character and life skills and has had over 5000 youth contacts.
Simpson also teaches tennis privately and through programs at the YMCA and
YWCA. He recently coached his Wilmington Junior Team Tennis (10 and under) to
the State Championships.


Simpson has also organized many charitable tennis exhibition matches with tennis
greats like Serena Williams, Andy Roddick, James Blake, Caroline Wozniacki, John
McEnroe, Todd Martin and most recently the Bryan Brothers.

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