A great leader captures minds and hearts by painting a vivid and compelling vision for the future. Those qualities could be found in Albert “Al” Tucker, who not only held a steadfast and positive vision when it came to diversity and inclusion in South Florida, but also fought for that vision with an honest passion not often seen in leaders. The 64-year-old advocate’s recent passing delivered a great loss to the South Florida community he devoted his life to serving.
Tucker served as the vice president of Multicultural Business Development for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, where he focused on attracting organizations and families of diverse backgrounds to the Greater Fort Lauderdale-area.
“He made sure that the African American community as well as the Caribbean community were involved in all aspects,” says Shelly Licorish, National Activations Manager for the USTA National Campus in Orlando.
Licorish, who previously worked for USTA Florida for 16 years, knew Tucker through his practice of tying his passion for tennis to his work to promote diversity and inclusion.
“He would call me when he wanted to get my thoughts on what he was trying to do with tennis and bringing folks together,” recalls Licorish. “Whether it was a banquet or event, he was always trying to be inclusive to everyone.”
From 1994 to 1998, Tucker served as the Executive Director of the American Tennis Association, the oldest African American sports organization in the country. The ATA was formed in 1916 to support black tennis players who were barred from competing in USTA events until segregation barriers began to crumble in the 1950s. After his tenure, he remained an active member of the organization, always championing to have the ATA recognized.
“Al’s greatest gift was to support this wonderful cause in a way that brought all people together,” shares Adam Ross, USTA Florida Board Director at Large.
For Ross, Tucker was a friend both on and off the court. The two played doubles at Veltri Tennis Center and Sunrise Tennis Club from time to time. Ross also attended several ATA events with Tucker.
“I was privileged to attend the installation of many luminaries including the great USTA Florida legend Bobby Curtis into the Black Tennis Hall of Fame as a Regional Leader in 2015,” recalls Ross. “Bobby’s contributions included running an ATA tournament at Moore Park in Miami and providing tennis lessons at no-cost to underprivileged children. Overall, Al saw the big picture and was able to generate enthusiasm and ultimately encourage people to contribute both time and money to support the ATA.”
Throughout Tucker’s more than two decades of employment at the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, the diversity advocate was instrumental in streamlining a $10 million initiative that would include a permanent home and training facility for the American Tennis Association in South Florida, which included the Black Tennis Hall of Fame.
“One of the things that will be emphasized at this center is identifying local talent and helping those youth connect to proper training and guidance so that they can continue at the next level,” Tucker told USTA Florida in 2017.
In collaboration with the USTA, the ATA had focused on raising funds to build the facility at the Miramar Regional Park located between Fort Lauderdale and Miami. The 26-court complex would feature a clubhouse and training area, the organization’s offices and the museum. The ATA would hold its national championship tournament at the site. At the time, Tucker said the new facility would draw people from all over the state and country, while encouraging more African Americans to play the sport.
“He wanted the ATA to be recognized and have its own identity,” says Licorish. “Al believed the ATA should have its own home and facility for ATA junior players to train in South Florida.”
While you may only know of Tucker’s name through his work for tennis, his devotion and work ethic resonates through so many other facets of South Florida. Since his arrival in Broward County, the native New Yorker had worked relentlessly to raise public awareness regarding the economic impact that multi-cultural tourism had specifically in Broward County and more broadly throughout South Florida.
“Al was a mover and a shaker, a leader and great at bringing people together,” says Ross. “He was a champion of diversity and inclusion in a very positive way. He made my life better and richer with his positivity – just as he did for all that were lucky enough to spend time with him.”
Tucker’s positive influence on tennis will be forever felt throughout USTA Florida, our communities and beyond. We extend our deepest sympathies to Tucker’s family, friends and colleagues.