Connecting the Forgotten Past of Tennis in NYC
by Andrew Shilling
Dec 19, 2012 | 842 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dale Caldwell and Nancy Bill McShea present their take on the history of tennis in New York
Dale Caldwell and Nancy Bill McShea present their take on the history of tennis in New York
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While many remember names like Arthur Ashe, Billie Jean King and John McEnroe; members of the West Side Tennis Club in Flushing are asking why the next generation of tennis has forgotten the names like William Leonard, Holcombe Ward and Walter Pate.

Dale Caldwell, director at large on the board of directors at the USTA, and Nancy Gill McShea, former varsity coach with the St. Mary’s team in Massachusetts; together wrote the book, “Tennis in New York”, an exposé outlining the history of tennis in New York.

Their goal: to re-connect the youth with the lost past of this sport.

“It is really a business gap,” Caldwell said. “The USTA and West Side are not doing anything wrong; they have just been concerned with playing tennis.”

While out were out promoting the new book at the renowned Forest Hills West Side Tennis Club, they found themselves preaching tennis history to the choir, explaining that the book only works as just one part of this puzzle.

“I don’t really know how we’re going to do it,” McShea said, looking to her fellow WSTC members for advice. “With this book, we’ve only scratched the surface.”

Their question had the member’s suggestions flooding in, all of which agreed that there needs to be something to raise interest in the youth in tennis.

“Part of what we want to do is get some regular meetings with the leaders of tennis in New York City to get together and talk about issues that are important,” Caldwell explained.

“We also discovered that in several clubs there is an opportunity on a grassroots basis, online, to sign up for tennis lessons, sign up for leagues and to sign up for tournaments.”

Caldwell has recently been looking to a web-model used at the Riverside Clay Tennis Association as a framework, which Caldwell says has already raised their membership by 40 percent.

“We will do a custom development for various groups or maybe an off-the-shelf development for a number or folks,” he explained. “There are a number of great software programs built from the top down, but I really think we need something that is built from the bottom up.”

Caldwell and McShea, while both hopeful that non-profit programs like this in the city can help fund activities that could support their plan for the sport; they both agree that looking to the past is the best way to begin developing a plan for the future.

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