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25

Oct

2017

Black Power a Rarity in US Men’s Tennis

It was an interesting tennis facet to follow the progress of the American Frances Tiafoe at work in Basel’s St. Jakobshalle. Despite his heavy defeat at the hands of superstar Roger Federer, the US teenager demonstrated his agility, power and speed. The dark-skinned youngsters are currently a rare species in American men’s tennis. Alongside Tiafoe, the ATP ranking features only Donald Young (58), Michael Mmoh (153) and Evan King (209). In terms of physical power, the stocky Tiafoe reminds Basel tennis friends of a certain Chip Hooper. In his time, he was a service cannon, and had the posture of a Swiss wrestler. Following Hooper, Rodney Harmon and James Blake achieved a certain sporting class on the circuit.  The great shining example in US black tennis remains Arthur Ashe. Not only was he the first dark-skinned professional to play in the US Davis Cup, but was also a leading figure in building up the ATP players’ association and a mediator between the parties involved. Ashe died relatively early (1993 at the age of 49) as a result of a lung infection caused by AIDS.

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