Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management

Committee Member

Mariela Fernandez

Committee Member

Elizabeth D Baldwin

Committee Member

Gregory Ramshaw


Previous research has shown that adult participation in sports leagues can have positive impacts on mental and physical health in addition to expanding a participant’s social network. However, a relatively small percentage of US adults participate in sports leagues, and an even smaller percentage of adult ethnic minorities participate in these leagues. The purpose of this study was to examine the lived experiences of African Americans participating in an organized tennis league in the southeast United States. The research objectives were to determine the impacts of participating in a United State Tennis Association (USTA) tennis league for African American adults and the role USTA tennis leagues play in creating a sense of belonging for African American participants. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews with thirteen African Americans participating in tennis leagues in Columbia, South Carolina. Through open and axial coding, themes were constructed. Major themes involved the process of joining a tennis league, the benefits of playing in a league, and a sense of belonging. Elements that were crucial in drawing new players and retaining existing players were identified. Findings from this study should assist tennis organizations and professionals in recruiting African Americans to recreational tennis.



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