By Gregg Bragg, Senior Staff Writer for The Island Connection
The United States Tennis Association (USTA): Raising the Game is due out December 1, and isn’t Seabrook resident Warren F. Kimball’s first book.
The retired Navy captain has written a number of volumes and countless papers centered on WWII, all while teaching history at institutions including; the U.S. Naval Academy, the University of Georgia, and for 32 years at Rutgers University. Kimball also played a lot of tennis. “I started playing around 1970. My son ended up getting an athletic grant from the University of Virginia, and my late wife, Jackie, worked for the USTA. I was an active volunteer, and eventually ended up on the USTA Board of Directors for four years,” said Kimball. A USTA president was familiar with his aptitude for writing and asked if he would be interested, and his response is now apparent. The United States Tennis Association: Raising the Game is published by the University of Nebraska Press. It will be available through Amazon and local book stores. Asked if any book signings have been scheduled, Kimball chuckled at any notoriety generated by a book he describes as “very technical,” but thinks he could make himself available.
The paraphrased description offered by UNP says it is; an in-depth look at the history of the USTA and how the organization cultivated and organized tennis over the past 135 years. What started as a group of elite white men from country clubs in the Northeast, morphed into the largest tennis association in the world, with women in top leadership positions and annual revenue well over $300 million. The book sheds light on some little known/overlooked accomplishments like; establishing the Open Era in tennis in 1968 (when professionals began competing with amateurs in Grand Slam events), for expanding the game in the United States during the 1970s tennis boom, and for establishing the U.S. Open as one of the most prestigious and largestattended sporting events in the world. The USTA is primarily run by volunteers, but adds a professional staff to manage and govern tennis at the local level across the United States. It also “owns” the U.S. Open.
“The story of how tennis is managed by the nation’s largest cadre of volunteers in any sport is one of sports’ best untold stories. With access to the private records of the USTA, Warren F. Kimball tells an engaging and rich history of how tennis has been managed and governed in the United States,” concludes the UNP description. There is no better example of the mostly volunteer run USTA tournaments than Seabrook’s annual Alan Fleming Senior Open Clay Court State Championship Tournament. The Fleming is a national qualifier, and often a national title event in itself, drawing some 250 of the top players from a region spanning the entire Southeast. Warren has either participated in the tournament or helped wife Sally Kimball with publicity for over 15 years. Asked how cool Sally was (she has worked with this reporter for a number of years), Kimball said, “Very cool! I had been visiting Seabrook since 1980, and built a home here in 2001. Both of us lived on Seabrook, hardly knew each other, but eventually met and got married in 2013.” Linda Malcolm, owner/proprietor/ curator extraordinaire of Indigo Books confirmed the availability of The United States Tennis Association: Raising the Game in her boutique. She says university presses are notoriously slow at distribution, but is confident another supplier will get the book on her shelves by the release date. Through the bookstore, the hard cover book is expected to retail for $40, but Malcolm hopes a $25 soft cover version will be available, which will increase to book’s popularity.
She says a lot of people buy books on golf, in part, because there are a lot of books on golf. Conversely, people don’t buy books on tennis for the lack of them, a market inefficiency she hopes Kimball can correct.