March 2017 – On Sept. 23, 1927, a small group of tennis professionals gathered in an upper-story room of the Spalding building in New York City. Their mission: to bridge the gap between the amateur ranks and a respectable career as tennis professionals.

When the group emerged from its first meeting, the Professional Lawn Tennis Association of the United States was born. The group sent out the following notice to all recognized tennis professionals:

“For some time there has been a very strong feeling among lawn tennis professionals that there is a need for some organization to protect and promote their interests, and to assist them in obtaining a proper and recognized status in the tennis world. A meeting was held on September 23 and it was decided to form an Association ... An initiation fee of $10 will be charged to all new members. Dues are to be $5 annually.

“An executive committee has been elected and a constitution adopted. It is the desire of this executive committee to have all tennis professionals of accepted standards become members of this Association. As one of these, you are cordially invited to fill out the enclosed application blank for membership.”

Little did they know their plan would materialize into today’s United States Professional Tennis Association – a worldwide organization of more than 15,000 teaching professionals dedicated to promoting the sport and raising the standards of their profession.

This year, the USPTA is celebrating its 90th anniversary, and in recognition of our rich and diverse history, this magazine will feature the leaders of the association over the next several issues. The anniversary will be officially commemorated at the 2017 USPTA World Conference in Orlando. 

USPTA Timeline

  • 1927 – Professional Lawn Tennis Association of the United States was formed
  • 1957 – Association name changed to United States Professional Lawn Tennis Association
  • 1969 – First certification exams were administered
  • 1970 – Association name changed to United States Professional Tennis Association
  • 1974 – Ray Bovett, first full-time executive director
  • 1974 – First national office in Houston
  • 1975 – Bill Tym becomes second full-time executive director after the death of Bovett. USPTA has 1,000 members.
  • 1975 – National office moves with Tym to space outside of Chattanooga, Tenn.
  • 1977 – USPTA celebrates 50th anniversary and launch of ADDvantage, USPTA’s own magazine, under president Sheldon Caldwell.
  • 1978 – USPTA strikes endorsement agreement with Colony Beach & Tennis Resort near Sarasota, Fla., to move its headquarters there. Michael Fryer hired as executive director. Membership is up to 2,000.
  • 1982 – Tim Heckler becomes executive director/CEO
  • 1982 – Japan Professional Tennis Association becomes first international division
  • 1983 – USPTA moves headquarters to Saddlebrook Resort
  • 1983 – Computerization of USPTA begins
  • 1984 – Membership totals 4,000
  • 1990 – USPTA begins original free grassroots lesson program, Tennis Across America
  • 1990 – USPTA moves its headquarters back to Houston and its own building
  • 1992 – Membership grows to 10,000
  • 1993 – USPTA officially opens its Hall of Fame with induction of the late Arthur Ashe
  • 1994 – USPTA introduces Little Tennis®, a new program targeting young players from 3 to 10
  • 1995 – USPTA launches www.uspta.com
  • 1997 – USPTA offers free personal websites to every member
  • 1999 – USPTA launches Find-a-Pro service 
  • 2002 – USPTA celebrates 75th anniversary
  • 2003 – USPTA launches TV show “On Court with USPTA” that airs on the Tennis Channel
  • 2004 – USPTA introduces Player Development Program
  • 2007 – USPTA has 14,500 members
  • 2010 – USPTA China Division is formed
  • 2012 – Tim Heckler retires as CEO and John Embree assumes the reins
  • 2015 – USPTA has 15,000 members
  • 2015 – USPTA begins certifying platform tennis instructors 
  • 2016 – USPTA breaks ground on new World Headquarters in Lake Nona, Fla.
  • 2017 – USPTA relocates to Lake Nona, Fla.