Athletics have long been part of St. Louis, Missouri’s history; the Gateway to the West hosted the first Olympics outside of Europe in 1904 and is home to an 11-time World Series winning team. Tennis is also part of that long athletic tradition — from the 35 American male players who competed in the 1904 Olympic games to those who participated this August in the 32nd US Open USTA Wheelchair Championships. Meet MyTennisLessons in St. Louis and let us give you a virtual tour of all the tennis community there has to offer.
In August, St. Louis welcomed the top wheelchair tennis players in the world to the Dwight David Tennis Center in Forest Park for the Championship tournament. Temperatures in the upper 90s caused some players to get blisters on their hands from pushing in the heat, but the competition went on, St. Loui’s KTVI reported. Fortunately, in St. Louis, there’s no shortage of tennis players eager to volunteer for such a big event: The St. Louis University tennis teams were on hand to help players and referees, pick up trash and act as ballpersons. SLU head tennis coach Jon Zuch told the student newspaper, “It means a lot to have the tournament in St. Louis and to have an opportunity to help in any way we can.” The Wheelchair Championships certainly bring a tennis spotlight to St. Louis, and show the game truly is for everyone. A British paralympian told KTVI, “Just because you have a disability doesn’t mean you can’t do something, and tennis is a sport that I recommend for anyone to get involved in.”
Eight-time grand slam winner and former world no. 1 Jimmy Connors was born in East St. Louis, Illinois, just across the Mississippi River from the center of the metropolis. Connors wrote in his autobiography The Outsider that after tennis practice in East Metro, he, his brother and grandfather would ride railcars out toward Kansas City. He wrote: “There we were, just off the courts, dressed in pristine tennis whites, and hopping into a boxcar with hobos.” Connors later moved to California to train, but he never forgot his Midwestern roots.
Mound City has some spectacular public courts you’ll want to play on every chance you get. Tower Grove Park has 12 courts along with a pro shop and locker rooms. The park itself is known for its pavilions, statues and wildlife, so why not take a stroll after your tennis lesson? The Dwight Davis Tennis Center, home of the Wheelchair Championships, is another exceptional venue for tennis lessons with its 18 lighted courts. Forest Park, where the center is located, is also home to the St. Louis Zoo, St. Louis Art Museum, Missouri History Museum and St. Louis Science Center as well as an amphitheatre, boathouse, greenhouse and skating rink, so you’ve got a weekend of activities in one place. Meet our tennis instructors in St. Louis who teach at these beautiful locations along with other St. Louis area parks.
St. Louis is home to Washington University, which has a prestigious Division III tennis program. Wash U competes in the University Athletic Association, a conference composed of 12 selective private colleges, including Emory University, University of Chicago and New York University. The Wash U men’s team captured the conference championship the past two years and won the NCAA Division III National Championship in 2008. In 2010 and 2013 a Wash U men’s player was crowned National Champion in the individual tournament. The Wash U women’s team also boasts 11 All-Americans, an ITA National Rookie of the Year, and this year, had an ITA ranking high of no. 8 among all Division III schools. In addition, Sophomore Rebecca Ho placed fifth at Small College Nationals last week. Catch the teams in action this spring on the beautiful Wash U campus — site of the 1904 World Fair and 1904 Olympics!