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Tennis News • New York City • 10sBalls Wishes Happy Birthday To 99 Year Old Tennis Star Robert Ryland

Photo by Robert Ryland via Facebook

 

Editor’s note: 10sBalls thanks Noah Rubin for giving us permission to repost these great stories. We wish him and this endeavor the best of luck. Great seeing Noah wearing K-Swiss and playing Solinco Strings.

 

#MyBTR- “I was the first black professional tennis player & today I turn 99. I say it is no big deal, no cause for celebration, just another year. There are many things I can not do now, but I accept that. I enjoy doing what I can do. I have played tennis all my life: Played on my high school team in Chicago and was a finalist in state singles. Played at Wayne State in Detroit and was one of the first black players to compete in the NCAA Championships and the first to reach the quarterfinals. In college I wasn’t allowed to eat in restaurants with my teammates. They would bring me my food on the bus, where I sometimes would sleep. I wasn’t bitter, all I wanted was to play tennis. After winning the American Tennis Association Mens’ title I was given a wild card to play at the USLTA Nationals (US Open) at Forest Hills in 1955, as one of the first few African Americans to play there. In 1959 I was invited to join Jack March’s World Pro Tennis Championships, becoming the first black pro player. When he was a kid, Arthur Ashe said I was his hero and he wanted to be good enough to beat me. I was a teaching pro and coached many young talented players and celebrities all over the world. In 1994 I had the opportunity to coach the Williams sisters a brief time before they became famous. Venus, I believe was 14. I don’t play tennis anymore. My balance is bad. I do Yoga. I watch so many new players in person and on TV. At the courts, I enjoy giving pointers to anyone who will listen. There is a Paver at the BIllie Jean King National Tennis Center and it says, ‘Bob Ryland: Coach and Friend’. I tell my wife Nancy she can go there to remember me when I am gone. Last week I had a check up on my pacemaker. The doc said the battery is good for another 8 years. It made me feel like I have an eight year life extension. Next year, June 16, 2020, I will be 100. No Big Deal.” – Robert Ryland

 

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Photo by Robert Ryland via Facebook

 

Photo by Behind The Racquet via Facebook

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