One Love Tennis celebrates the restoration of the historic tennis court at 1406 Orange St. in Wilmington with a ribbon-cutting ceremony
on April 16. Clockwise from Top: One Love Tennis founder Lenny Simpson rallies with his former mixed doubles partner, Bonnie Logan.
Simpson and Logan share a hug following Logan’s speech at the podium. Members of One Love Tennis, the United State Tennis Association
and the Wilmington community gather for the official ribbon cutting.
Simpson was inducted into the Cheshire Academy Hall of
Fame in 1989, the North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame in 2011,
the Greater Wilmington Sports of Hall of Fame in 2012, the Black
Tennis Hall of Fame in August 2014 and the Hill School Basketball
Hall of Fame in November 2014. He is also featured in Breaking
the Barriers: The ATA and Black Tennis Pioneers exhibit at the
International Tennis Hall of Fame.
In 2013, Simpson returned to Wilmington to make a difference
in the community, like Eaton had done years before.
Since April 2013, this nonprofit has been providing year-round
tennis instruction and life skills/mentoring free of charge at seven
locations that cater to at-risk youth affecting the whole community.
“Everybody in the neighborhood would go to Dr. Eaton’s
court,” Simpson says. “I probably would have never played tennis
if that tennis court had not been there, because that was the only
opportunity I had to play.”
PHOTOS BY ALLISON POTTER
“The restored historic court will be for neighborhood kids,” he
says. The One Love program already have ages 5 to 11 enrolled.
This will also be a safe haven for those ages 12 to 18.
“We want to give them hope, just like someone told me at 5,
6, 7 that you can succeed and do something with your life. We
have kids from Landfall and kids from the projects on the same
court. All they know is they are both trying to hit a tennis ball, and
they’re getting to know each other and become friends. They’re
learning they’re not different than each other.”
Simpson has been persistent, believing all things are possible
“Jesus Christ told me that all things are possible. That’s the prem-ise
I work on,” Simpson explains. “The more you tell me no, that’s
telling me yes. If you tell me yes, that’s the best thing you can do
for me because then I’ll stop. If you tell me no, that means I’m on
the right track, it’s gonna be done.” — Pat Bradford