On June 18, 2022, Play Tennis Gainesville (PTG) hosted its second annual Juneteenth Slam. Over 20 people in the community gathered to celebrate and remember the end of slavery in the United States through tennis activities. 

At the slam, there was music, games, poetry, food, and much more for the community to enjoy. The goal of the Juneteenth Slam is to get people involved with tennis, while also educating them about a monumental day in United States history. 

The energy at the Juneteenth Slam was great and food was served.

Head Pro at PTG, Chris Champion, was proud to host the event. “We’re here to celebrate all that has happened in the past and all that will happen in the future, but really build a legacy of tennis on the eastside of Gainesville.” 

The atmosphere of the event was great, “everybody is having fun and enjoying themselves,” Champion said, “we are having fun!” 

USTA Florida Diversity Coordinator, Ron Lyons was also in attendance and talked about why the Juneteenth Slam was important to him. “It gives me an opportunity to hone in more on my black culture,” Lyons said. “I feel like a lot of times I haven’t had opportunities to do that, but with the Juneteenth celebration I get to celebrate with other black people in the community and enjoy the sport of tennis.” 

Nilanti Barton participated in the poetry slam at the event.

As part of the celebration, there was a Poetry Slam, where Nilanti Barton stepped up to the mic and read her poem “Freedom Day” which highlighted what the word “freedom” means to the black community. Her final lines read, “to me June 19 is a major day to honor the courageous people who made it so you and I may now have equal rights and opportunities as everyone else.” 

PTG wasn’t the only Florida tennis facility to host a Juneteenth event. Pro World Tennis Academy, MaliVai Washington Youth Tennis Foundation, Fort Gatlin Tennis Center, Gaines Park Tennis Facility, Sally Wilkey Foundation Summer Camp at Vero Beach Tennis and Fitness Club, and City of Winter Park Tennis Center all have hosted or plan to host Juneteenth events in the month of June.

There were lots of tennis activities to bring the community together.

These organizations were awarded a grant of $200 to help run their own celebration in their community. 

To learn more about USTA Florida’s commitment to Diversity and its Amplify initiative visit www.ustaflorida.com/diversity.