YESTERDAY For nearly two decades, the Dallas Country Club had hosted the prestigious Dallas Invitational Tennis Tournament, annually displaying the best in the game. But 25 years ago this month, in February 1966, that all ended. The reason: ARTHUR ASHE, the exciting black tennis phenom who described his appearance on the then-all-white pro tour as being like “the only raisin in a rice pudding.”
DCC officials approached Davis Cup captain George McCall about inviting “some of the Davis Cup players,” Ashe not included, to play. When McCall balked, club representatives agreed to invite Ashe, but tola tournament director Kenneth Parker that he would have to exclude black spectators. Parker refused, noting that it would be rather awkward to stand at the gate and inform black fens that they could not attend. In the end, the event was moved to the then new Samuell-Grand Tennis Center.
Perhaps because the owners of both Dallas newspapers at the time were Dallas Country Club members, press coverage of the Ashe incident was sparse. The Dallas Morning News downplayed the flap, reporting DCC’s party line of “overcrowding” as the reason, burying a brief reference to the racial issue well down in the body of the article. The Dallas Times Herald, for its part, didn’t report the incident at all.
Ashe won, by the way.