At the end of last year’s US Open, I posted a piece on a 13-year-old black tennis phenom named Cori Gauff, who had blown through the girl’s junior tournament to reach the finals.
I had not heard of Cori until reports tracking her progress began popping up in my email basket. The sender was Black Tennis Magazine.
That’s right, Black Tennis Magazine! Not the print publication that members of the American Tennis Association were privy to through the organization’s newsletter. It was a completely online reincarnation of the magazine founded in 1977 by the late Marcus A. Freeman Jr.
I can’t recall exactly when BTM posts began arriving, but I am so glad the new management found my email address. Now, I’m enjoying a daily digest of news about tennis players of color during the Australian Open, the first of the four Grand Slam tournaments in professional tennis, that ends Jan. 28.
Soon after I posted the piece on Gauff, I became a BTM subscriber. Since then, I have been impressed by the variety of black tennis news as well as the timeliness of some of the reports.
For a black tennis blogger always looking for fresh faces or ideas, my BTM subscription has been worth the $8.95-a-month for full access. A basic subscription costs. $5.95. (See subscription link below)
BTM online introduced me to Danny Thomas, a promising black player from Pickerington, Ohio, who just graduated from high school last year and has joined the pro ranks.
And I was acquainted with Whitney Osuigwe, who at 15 may be the youngest player on the Women’s Tennis Association tour. The Florida-born teen whose father is Nigerian last year became the first American to win the girls’ French Open title in 28 years.Embed from Getty Images
(Whitney Osuigwe at the 2017 Wimbledon championships.)
I also met 80-year-old Roz King of San Diego, who is the top-ranked senior player in the world, through a BTM post.
Among the magazine’s fall highlights was a November Q-and-A interview with Katrina Adams, the first black to head the United States Tennis Association. A former player and television tennis commentator, Adams is serving an unprecedented second term as the USTA’s president and chief executive officer.
And there was an interview with black tennis historian Bob Davis, who also is chief executive officer of the Black Tennis Hall of Fame.
More recently, BTM has broadened its scope, delving into topics not specifically related to black tennis. For example, one recent article focused on the uptick in gambling on tennis. Another explored proposed rules changes in the sport.
Black Tennis Magazine also is expanding its website (www.blacktennismagazine.com), offering more than just news on tennis. There is a page that provides tennis instruction with well-known online tennis guru Florian Meier. Another page is devoted to travel.
While I’ve found some of the articles in need of a little polish, I’ve noticed improvement lately in the editing.
The bottom line is I deeply appreciate the effort to fill a void that was left when the print magazine ceased publication after Freeman’s sudden death in September of 2016.
I reached out to the new management for an interview, but was unable to get anyone to speak on the record.
A statement on the website’s Legacy Page says the magazine has been “revitalized…to ensure that Freeman’s vision and mission of spreading the good news of black tennis was done in the most effective and efficient manner possible while keeping its original name.”
Freeman, a Dallas educator, tennis instructor and 2015 Black Tennis Hall of Fame inductee, decided to create his own magazine in 1977 after finding no mainstream coverage of a major tennis tournament in Texas in which black players won the singles and doubles competitions.
For nearly four decades, the magazine was the leading source of news about black tennis players. BT Magazine could be counted on to cover the ATA’s annual national tournaments. The magazine became a feature of the ATA newsletter distributed via email to members.
Caroline Rucker, who administers the newsletter, said she was thrilled to learn BTM was back in business and would love to resume the relationship between the nation’s oldest black sports organization and the magazine.
“I am extremely happy that they are back” she told me, “and Marcus’ vision and dream still has life.”
On that, I would simply say, ditto!
Here’s a link to subscribe to Black Tennis Magazine: https://www.blacktennisnews.com