NET GAINS: Black Male Athletes Breaking Barriers in Lofty Sport Careers (1 of 2)


Part One of Two: Tauheed Browning Sr and Tauheed Browning Jr

West Philadelphia father and son Tennis duo






Organized sports in the US and beyond, traditionally have more African American men competing in football, basketball, track – often ignoring those excelling in the non-traditional sporting areas. Historically these lofty and predominantly white led sports like Tennis, Golf, Soccer are not funded as options in urban area school districts. It takes the moral of those who pioneered success and paved the way as the “firsts” to give back the opportunity and build resource centers for those who could also excel.


Tennis is one particularly growing (non-traditional) sporting arena for African Americans in this century. One sport you can play for ages with no extreme physical threat as well as many endorsement opportunities as a pro. It’s important to present the most relatable role models advancing in this sport to children who may not have thought to consider tennis as an option. Not feeling welcomed, not seeing comparable examples and/or not knowing all resource programs available is also not being able to compete fairly…Representation Matters!



Racial tension being ever-present in this country as far back as the early 1900’s, mainstream tennis clubs, associations and leagues denied African Americans access to their facilities and programs…this included top rated Black players in the nation at various times! This inspired many of those players to engage intramural type competitions amongst others like them in the country under a collective known as the American Tennis Association or ATA. The ATA’s mission continues to be promoting tennis as a sport for black people and developing junior tennis players to compete at the professional level nationwide.


When you think of prominent African Americans who have played the sport there is a strong historic tie between them, the American Tennis Association and the city of Philadelphia...famously including Ora Washington and Arthur Ashe! The Philadelphia Tennis Club - located in the Germantown section of Philadelphia – holds the distinction of being the oldest privately owned African American Tennis club in the nation. Rooted in 1916 with the founding of the ATA, it represented one of the many smaller/similar tennis clubs who joined forces to create one collective league where Black Americans could learn and enjoy the game with peers.



In 2006, the Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education Center located in the East Falls area of North Philadelphia was constructed as a premiere facility dedicated to innovative youth tennis programming in the tristate area - PA, Southern NJ and DE. Now known as Legacy Youth Tennis and Education, the center still provides a nurturing and inclusive environment where students can learn and practice achievement behaviors through tennis instruction, education, and character programs. This is where I traveled to speak with Tauheed Browning Sr and Tauheed Browning Jr – father and son team based out of West Philadelphia who have been training at the facility for years. Tauheed Browning Sr coaches his son, Tauheed Jr – already a Fila sponsored UTSA tennis professional at age 17!


Years in Business and where are you based?


Tauheed (Sr):

I have 20 years as a coach – currently at the Legacy Youth Tennis and Education center in East Falls, but started out in South Philly at 26th and Wharton playground. I also worked at Girard College in North Philadelphia and JTCC - Junior Tennis Champions Center – in College Park, Maryland.


Tauheed (Jr) has been playing tennis since age 5-6, and wanted to play the sport full speed at about 10yrs old while his father was coaching at JTCC. Winning ATA Championships as young as 8 years old!






Mission?

To build Tauheed (Jr’s) brand as a star player but also entice fashion partnerships and brand ambassador opportunities where it makes sense. We’re currently working with FILA as a sponsor, but it is Tauheed (Jr’s) personal passion to incorporate his love of the game with his personal style. His goals as a player is to incorporate wearing high end fashion brands as tournament gear as well as continuing to develop his sportswear brand – Lost Under.






Mentors?


Tauheed (Sr):

Bill Johnson – my first coach – was my mentor. He worked full time for SEPTA but also coached neighborhood children in the area for free. Mr Johnson was once friends with Arthur Ashe and never quite played professionally. But he had the skill set and will to inspire and teach the class as well as structure of the game. I was the mentor to my daughter who also played tennis under my direction, Tauheed (Jr) now playing and also my youngest son Jace who also enjoys playing tennis. Jace, affectionately known as JZ, has been playing since age three and has phenomenal amount of potential. Possibly enough to play professional like his big brother.






Top 3 memorable jobs/commissions?


Tauheed (Jr):

I love being able to travel to areas that team sports may not be able to touch and connecting with other players from places like Brazil, Chile, France, Russia etc. Also experiencing other cultures, historic scenery and different types of food!


Recently, Good Water – enlisted Tauheed Browning Jr as the Brand Ambassador. Good Water is a local luxury water distributor who targeted tennis and golf players for brand partnerships. The company selected Tauheed to spearhead the brand - a black athlete representing a black owned brand!


Boyd’s Philadelphia - luxury clothing retailer in Philadelphia, owned by a Tennis Family that Tauheed (Sr.) once coached members – also serves Good Water to customers while shopping!


Quick Sip: Check out Tauheed (Jr) in this promotional video for GOOD WATER.







How has COVID-19 affected your business if any?


There was a temporary effect until city government lifted restrictions on tennis courts and outside play. Tennis was one of the first sports to be greenlit because of the amount of distance involved in playing. But as a father, just making sure home base was safe was the most important. Tauheed (Jr) travels a lot by himself to many countries overseas and he happened to be in South America at the height of the shutdown. So we took the necessary precautions – quarantine rules to ensure we were working progressively in this new set of standards as per COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines.


But we are now getting into merchandise including masks, but also carrying thermometers white training and coaching as well. Cutting no corners on being SAFE!


We will continue with more on this in next month's as we speak with coach Malik Hall - a coach with Philadelphia Tennis Club who has also worked with Tauheed Jr!


Check out more of the Father & Son Duo online:

Tauheed Browning Jr on Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/tb___rising19/

Coach Tauheed Browning Sr on Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/tauheedbrowning/





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