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Clayton hosts 20-team tournament

Southern University’s Lady Jaguars, pictured at last year’s tournament at International Park, will return to defend their title.

Southern University’s Lady Jaguars, pictured at last year’s tournament at International Park, will return to defend their title.

When thinking of Historical Black Colleges and Universities, the last thing that may come to mind are tennis teams — at least that’s what Florida A&M University head coach Carl Goodman says.

“We are the most underfunded sports programs at historical black schools,” said Goodman. “There are several outstanding HBCU teams and players.”

Goodman, who attended Jacksonville University on full tennis scholarship, decided it was time to bring some positive attention to the game of tennis.

“I wanted to show the community at large what HBCU tennis was all about,” said the tall, slender coach.

That’s how the three-day HBCU tennis tournament arrived at Clayton County International Beach for the second straight year, in September. Twenty historical black colleges and university teams competed against each other, male and female.

“Clayton County has a great facility and they have really embraced our tournament and it’s a win-win for us,” said Goodman.

Tamara Pathridge, the county’s liaison with the tournament, said the county was happy to oblige.

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Carl Goodman (right) head tennis coach at FAMU, and Tamara Pathridge, project manager of economic development for the Clayton County Board of Commissioners.

“This is good for our county, it has been very exciting,” said Pathridge. “We want their business here in Clayton County.”

“This year’s tournament has just been outstanding,” said Goodman. “We’ve had some really outstanding teams going up against each other.”

FAMU senior Temeura Asafu-Adjaye swept his competition. The 21-year-old from New Zealand is attending FAMU on a full tennis scholarship. The tall slim and somewhat shy athlete has been playing since he was 10.

“I just love competing. My favorite tennis player is Roger Federer,” said Asafu-Adjaye. His journey to FAMU started at the suggestion of a friend.

“I met the head tennis coach, I like him and the program, so I decided to come,” he said. He added he also wanted to know what it would be like being around more African-Americans. Asafu-Adjaye is of mixed race heritage; his mother is White and father is Black.

“There are no Blacks in New Zealand,” he said while laughing. “When I arrived it was a bit of a culture shock but, I got used to it after a while.”

“He’s such an amazing player,” said Pathridge. “He’s got quite the arm on him.”

Marcus Vickers, another co-creator of the tournament, said they also held a high school clinic for future tennis players.

“They learned different skills and techniques from all the head coaches and players, as well as the importance of education,” said Vickers.

Vickers, an All-American tennis player who attended FAMU on a full tennis scholarship, said he can remember when the tournament began with only three teams. He shared the same sentiment as Goodman in regard to HBCU tennis programs.

“This tournament allows for the schools to showcase their talent,” he said.

“It just continues to grow year by year,” said Vickers. “The support from the community, especially Clayton County, has been excellent.”