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go back to their respective businesses.”
Tennis is no less important to the African-American community. Freeman has been publishing his magazine on and off since 1977. He is hopeful that his human interest stories will inspire somebody to play better tennis and make readers aware that there are blacks who can compete at the games’ highest levels. He originally named his publication Black Tennis and took on the ATA title five years ago when its members voted to make his magazine their official publication of record. The ATA Magazine now goes out to each of the ATA’s 7,000-plus members and to a handful of subscribers.
Surprisingly, the 63-year-old Freeman says he has always used his own money for the endeavor and never realized any good times financially with the magazine. Things got so bad during the Reagan presidency that Freeman temporarily ceased publishing for a year and a half. “Reagan cut a lot of stuff for small businesses,” says Freeman, who has been the head pro and manager of the Kiest Tennis Center in Dallas since 1989. “I was paying 50 cents a copy to have the magazine printed before Reaganomics kicked in, and within two or three months, the cost doubled.” When Freeman finally did resume publishing, he did so by cutting and pasting stories on boards at home and running the pages off on a copier. No one was happier to see desktop publishing come along than Freeman. “I was right on top of that,” he says with a chuckle. “That was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
Like any good journalist, Freeman still kicks himself over the big one that got away. That would be the story about a young California phenom named Venus Williams. “Venus’s dad called me when she was six or seven years old,” recalls Freeman. “He was so excited that he called me in the middle of the night once, unaware of the time difference between Oakland and Dallas. He told me that I needed to write a story about her. I never did and, low and behold, look at what she’s become.”
Through the years, Freeman says he has noticed that 99% of the top black tennis players and coaches have come up through the ATA or the community. The United States Tennis Association, he contends, has done a good job of identifying the elite minority athletes and putting them in its national programs. “But the grassroots start at home,” he says, “on the old beat up public parks courts.”
The grassroots also starts between the pages of two well-positioned magazines and two men who have had the vision to get them started and keep them going.
EXECUTIVE PROFILES IN GOLF
Sy Green’s youngest daughter has owned a putter since she was 18 months old. His first date with his wile was a golf date — he handed her a 7- iron, a pitching wedge and a putter and said, “Let’s go.” If he comes back in another life, his wife is convinced it will be