31st Anniversary Jimmie “Doc” Horne Tennis Center
The Legacy of JIMMIE HORACE “DOC” HORNE
Friday, February 19, 2021 ::: 7:30 pm EST
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The rich history of black people and tennis in the United States goes back close to 110 years. It includes names such as Althea Gibson, Arthur Ashe, Zina Garrison, and Venus and Serena Williams. It also includes some who were little-known that carried the passion of tennis to small communities across the country. Those who infused a love of the game and its roaring competition to Black children and adults alike. Jimmie “Doc” Horne, public teacher, former FAMU competitor was one.
‘ “Doc” Horne’s passion was to help kids play tennis’
Jimmie “Doc” Horne Sr., a tennis standout once barred from white courts in an era of segregation, did not wait for somebody else to design a program to expose city kids in West Palm Beach to the sport. Nor did he wait to be paid. Retiring after 34 years as a teacher in area schools, he just showed up and did it.
In March 2021, he will be inducted into the US Tennis Hall of Fame of the American Tennis Association.
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In 1990, the city of West Palm Beach proclaimed March 17 as Jimmie “Doc” Horne Appreciation Day. The tennis facilities at Gaines Park are named for him. In 1994, he was one of six recipients of the U.S. Tennis Association’s Community Service Award in the nation.
Early in their careers, Venus and Serena Williams and their father practiced at Gaines Park, said son Jimmie “Bo” Horne.
“He was referred to by Venus and Serena as their tennis grandfather,” he said. “My daddy was resilient. He used to say, ‘If you want to be something in this life, you’ve got to start it.'”
Mr. Horne, who attended Florida A&M, won a state tennis championship in 1947 in the “all black division.” He became the first registered black tennis pro in Florida, according to a family-supplied biography. After serving as a quartermaster in the U.S. Army, he taught woodworking and carpentry for more than three decades at the former Roosevelt High School and North Tech Institute.
“He was an icon of the community,” said Reed Daniel, the campus manager for youth empowerment centers in West Palm Beach. “I’ll always remember him on the court with 10 or 12 kids standing at attention like a little army. He was holding a sign, ‘Tennis is a Quiet Sport.’ I loved that. Some of those kids were too young to read. But they did what he said.” Only years after he started did Mr. Horne receive even part-time pay for his efforts, Daniel said.
Jimmie “Doc” Horne Sr., a tennis standout once barred from white courts in an era of segregation, did not wait for somebody else to design a program to expose city kids in West Palm Beach to the sport. Nor did he wait to be paid. Retiring after 34 years as a teacher in area schools, he just showed up and did it. His generosity and commitment helped make him a community legend, say those who gathered to remember him before his burial. Mr. Horne passed on December 2, 2008, at age 88. There are few in the WPB Black community who played tennis who didn’t learn it or at least, in part from “Doc” Horne. In March 2021, he will be inducted into the US Tennis Hall of Fame of the American Tennis Association.
Tonight, we pay tribute to his untiring pursuit and passion for tennis in our community, extending it to the children in our community. The broadcast will feature a discussion about the Horne Center at Gaines Park named in his honor, discussion with some of his tennis students, his tennis partners, and his son, a celebrated R&B vocalist, performer, and music producer. The Jimmy “Doc” Horne Tennis Center is located at Gaines Park in West Palm Beach. New programs and renovations are under City planning and will be able to accommodate more tennis programs and player convenience. Joining us will be his son, the renowned music icon, “Bo” Horne and, we will talk with Rick Easley and James “Boneman” Marion about their love for the game and the man and how that came about.
We hope that you will join us in our tribute to “Doc” Horne to remember his contributions to tennis in Palm Beach County, West Palm Beach, and the State of Florida. You are invited to call-in (3473-838-9852) and share your recall about the role he played in our community, at school, and on the courts. As a near two-decade tennis student of his, I am proud to have the opportunity to continue and support his work.
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