Katrina Adams: Always Trying To Grow Tennis

WASHINGTON, June 17, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

From 2015 to 2018, Katrina Adams was president of the United States Tennis Association. Her stewardship was remarkable for many things and it marked a number of firsts, too: When she became President, Chairman and CEO of the USTA in January 2015, she became the first USTA black president, first USTA president who was a former professional player, and at age 46, she was also the youngest USTA president in the 139-year history of the organization.

Adams is currently the Chairperson of the ITF Fed Cup and Gender Equality in Tennis committees. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the International Tennis Hall of Fame and is Executive Director of the Harlem Junior Tennis & Education Program. As a tennis player, Adams made her mark both as a collegiate All-America at Northwestern University, where she won a national doubles title in 1987, and professionally, winning 20 WTA doubles titles, many of them with Zina Garrison. During her 12-year pro career (1987-99), Adams reached the doubles quarterfinals in each of the Grand Slams and was a doubles semifinalist at Wimbledon in 1988.

So, it should come as no surprise to those who know the 51-year-old Adams or have followed her pioneering career path that she is passionate about making tennis a more diverse and inclusive game. She’s always envisioning the “big picture.” Her USTA executive tenure was all about uniting not dividing.

“My goal has been to make a difference, to make a change, to make things better, be engaged, be involved, have a voice and be inclusive,” said Adams, interviewed on The Racquet Magazine Podcast, co-hosted by former pro turned broadcaster Rennae Stubbs and Racquet founder Caitlin Thompson.

“I was president of the USTA for four years and the biggest thing that I really talked about a lot was obviously diversity and inclusion, because here we go, right? It’s not hard to see when I walk in the room, but I’m black, and I’m diverse, and trying to really grow our sport, and get more kids of color engaged with the sport and make sure it’s an opportunity for them.”

During their one-hour 11-minute conversation, Adams spoke about racial injustice in America, the ongoing challenge of re-starting the 2020 tennis season, and reflected on how she handled the contentious 2018 US Open post-match trophy ceremony that followed the controversial Naomi Osaka-Serena Williams final.

It’s been a challenging year for Adams, who in the past 12 months has grieved the passing of both of her parents and recently disclosed she had contracted the Covid-19 virus in March. But she soldiers on day after day.

“Every day I’ve got to put one foot in front of the other and try to move forward and try to make sense in light of everything and figure out what’s the point of my existence in this world, in America,” she said.

Pliskova playing like a champion

World No. 3 Karolina Pliskova dropped only three games during her 6-2, 6-1 win over Ekaterina Alexandrova at the Tipsport Elite Trophy team competition at Štvanice Stadium in Prague on Tuesday. During their 49-minute match on clay, Pliskova fired five aces, hit 14 winners and won 76 percent of her first-serve points. She broke the 27th-ranked Alexandrova five times in seven tries and outpointed her opponent 55-33.

Alexandrova, from Russia, is the only non-Czech playing in the TIpsport Elite Trophy event. However, she lives in Prague, speaks fluent Czech and is close to attaining Czech citizenship.

Battle of the Brits taking shape

The order of play for the first three days of next week’s Schroders Battle of the Brits at Roehampton National Tennis Center, which begins June 23, was released on Tuesday, per the BBC’s Russell Fuller. The Schroders Battle of the Brits, which is the brainchild of Jamie Murray, marks the 2020 debut of Andy Murray. Murray is scheduled to play Liam Broady in his first match next Tuesday. Then, he will face British No. 1 Kyle Edmund on June 24 and James Ward on June 25.

Recognizing Gay Pride Month

On Monday, tennis writer Nick McCarvel shared an insightful Instagram Live conversation for Outsports with Belgian players Alison Van Uytvanck and Greet Minnen, who are together in a committed relationship.

“These two are incredible!” tweeted McCarvel afterward. “In awe of their frankness and ability to be open and honest.”

The Way Back Machine – Boris Becker, 1985 Queen’s Club

Just 17 years old in 1985, Boris Becker won his first top-level tour title at Queen’s Club. It was a prelude to bigger success a few weeks later at Wimbledon.

A century of memories – Bob Ryland

What they’re podcasting

On this week’s Behind The Racquet podcast, co-hosts Noah Rubin and Mike Cation go behind the scenes of last week’s ATP Zoom call with players, discuss US Open planning and more. Both were very honest with their views. Worth a good listen.

What they’re sharing on social media

James Blake / A donation in memory of his father …

Point – Pat Cash / Counterpoint – Dustin Brown

US Open / Happy 20th Birthday, Bianca Andreescu