“One of the things we’re trying is to get rid of the stigma that Black people don’t play tennis.”
All Photos Courtesy of Jehan LLC Photography
When his son started to show interest in tennis, Ed Amos could not imagine anyone else coaching him but himself. He soon became a certified tennis instructor and with community encouragement, Ed started a community-wide tennis program, Wolfe Park Tennis Club, in 1976.
The tennis club transitioned to the ACE With Love Program in 1995. To understand the history of social organizations and tennis in the Black community, one must look back to the late 1940s. Prior to Wolfe Park, Beatty Tennis Club, established in 1949 at Beatty Recreation Center, served the African American community with grassroots tennis instruction and social organization by and for Black tennis players. Most of these individuals played at the park during the late 1940s-1960s before the move to Wolfe Park, which continues to be the hub of Black tennis in the city. The Wolfe Park program started off primarily for adult instruction, but groups like Ace with Love began to teach a younger demographic.
The ACE With Love program supports the physical, mental, and academic health of the players. The program began with just six players in its first year and now boasts 80-plus students now. With a staff of tennis certified coaching volunteers, the program has flourished. While the ACE with Love program impacts physical health, the "ACE Program" aims for academic excellence. Centered on awarding students for their academic accomplishments, the program for the last four years has increasingly awarded academically gifted students. Ed noted, “We started off with probably 6 [straight ‘A’ students] the first year then we opened it up, and all of a sudden that jumped from 6 to 12, then 12 to 16. In the last four years, we've had 28 straight 'A' students in our program.” Ed is happy to brag about his student’s academic abilities but perhaps is prouder that the program has kept students out of disciplinary issues. “Our kids are pretty smart, they're pretty strong kids. Once you get that many kids are academically gifted together. You don't have a problem presenting information and they absorb like crazy, very smart kids and very good tennis players”.
In addition to his students, Ed recognizes that the program’s success is attributed to the professional team behind ACE with Love. At the end of September, 15 staff members of the ACE program were acknowledged for their work in the community by the Greater Columbus Tennis Association.
The ACE With Love program was established in 1995 as a part of the Wolfe Park Tennis Club, which was founded in 1976. The Wolfe Park program started off primarily as an adult program, but groups Ace with Love started to cater toward juniors.