Frank Adams was in the right place at the right time for tennis to change his life. In turn, over five decades in the sport, he’s impacted the lives of countless others.
“There hasn’t been a time of my life when I have not either been trying to learn how to play this game better or trying to help others learn how to play this game better,” Adams told Rocky Mountain PBS, looking back on his career.
Black Tennis Hall of Fame
Frank Adams of Aurora will be inducted into the Black Tennis Hall of Fame in July.
Adams grew up in Philadelphia at the center of a tennis boom that followed Arthur Ashe winning the 1968 US Open. He became obsessed with the sport, learning from library books and even a PBS program from the time, coach Vic Braden’s “Tennis for the Future.”
Adams was an early participant in the National Junior Tennis League (NJTL), an inner-city youth development program started by Arthur Ashe in 1969 that has grown to provide “free or low-cost tennis, education and life-skills programming to more than 225,000 children each year,” according to the United States Tennis Association.
This summer, Adams is being inducted into the national Black Tennis Hall of Fame, celebrating his role as a regional leader in Colorado and the greater western states.
“When I first came to Colorado, the United States Tennis Association, and many outside the organization, realized that tennis wasn’t diverse enough,” Adams said. “Arthur Ashe in 1969 created NJTL with the soul mission of taking tennis out of the country clubs and into the streets.”
Through Adams' coaching and leadership, the goal of diversifying tennis would reach far and wide.
Christina Walker grew up playing tennis in Highlands Ranch. To her, Adams was a coach, a mentor — and perhaps most importantly — a role model. He helped her see a place for herself in the sport.
“Not that I didn’t come across a lot of players of color, but I definitely didn’t come across many coaches of color,” Walker said. “You just never really know, do you represent the norm, are you outside the norm? For me it was always just a really clear vision… that I shouldn’t just be playing basketball or some stereotypical sport. Tennis is accessible to people of color, and you can achieve great things playing tennis.”
Adams' passion for the sport is on display working with players young and old.
“I’m always teaching,” he said. “I don’t know that I have very many days off, very many hours when I’m not teaching tennis.”
The Black Tennis Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place July 2-3 in Dorchester, Massachusetts.
His Hall of Fame entry includes a full biography of his tennis contributions, including:
Being “the first African American President of the Colorado Tennis Association, and Intermountain Tennis Association USTA Section, leading the way for future Black Colorado and sectional leaders.”
Being “one of the leaders to introduce Black tennis and teaching programs for Black children at Denver City Park” 25 years ago.
And, “His student, Jessika Mozia, became the first Black player to win the Colorado High School State number 1 Singles Championship in 2010. She won again in 2012.”
The page includes a long list of his previous awards and contributions in the sport.
“I am extremely, extremely humbled by being included in a group of so many great pioneers,” Adams said. “I stand in the shadow of all those who came before me, I stand on the shoulders of all those who are in my generation.”
“I’ve been lifted up and I’ve been recognized, but we all share in that recognition,” Adams said. “We all share in that battle to do more and to make every aspect of life equal and inviting to all.”
Adams' legacy stands as a reminder: following our interests, whether as seemingly simple as hitting a fuzzy green ball well, can indeed change the world, one hit, one smile, one person, at a time.