HBCU Tennis Icon Robert Ryland Dies

Tennessee State University and Xavier University of Louisiana alumnus Robert Ryland, a groundbreaking athlete in collegiate and professional tennis, died last week in New York City. He was 100.

He gained the attention of many during his high school tennis career and received a scholarship to XULA where he began his college career in tennis. He left for service in the US Army and returned to play at Wayne State in Detroit and was one of the first black players to compete in the NCAA Championships and the first to reach the quarterfinals. 

He earned his degree from Tennessee State University and added to his legacy as a tennis icon with a career in coaching some of pro tennis’ most iconic Black athletes, including Arthur Ashe, and Venus and Serena Williams.

Ryland is a member of the Black Tennis Hall of Fame, the USTA Eastern Hall of Fame, the USTA Midwest Hall of Fame, and Wayne State’s Athletic Hall of Fame.