50 Years of Firsts

First came the vision. A small cadre of tennis enthusiasts wanted to provide a haven in south Charlotte where tennis purists could hone their skills and socialize as they promoted and celebrated the sport. In 1962, the vision came to life; the club officially incorporated as a member-owned nonprofit entity.

Next came a rapid series of firsts.  Ervin Construction Company, Inc, Charles Ervin, President, donated 20 acres of land near the developing Olde Providence subdivision.  We built our first outdoor courts, our first pool and our first clubhouse. We enrolled our first members, hired our first tennis pro and, in 1965, hosted the first Charlotte Invitational Tennis Tournament.

The tournament underscored the club’s growing prominence and helped to propel the purchase of 20 adjacent acres. The event also marked the beginning of a period in which the club’s history and the history of tennis began to intertwine. Olde Providence quickly became a destination for the sport’s superstars, elevating Charlotte in the eyes of the tennis world, and tennis in the eyes of Charlotte.

In 1968, Arthur Ashe made a fun bit of history when he played the Charlotte Invitational wearing a shirt and wrist band that were … pink. With that, the first black player ever selected for the United States’ Davis Cup team broke a different sort of color barrier. Olde Providence had, until then, insisted on all-white outfits.

Olde Providence’s achievements over the years have surely surpassed our founders' imaginings. Milestones include hosting an array of prestigious tournaments and exhibitions, such as the Davis Cup (twice), the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships, World Team Tennis and the Federation Cup. Tennis legends who have played here include Andre Agassi, Chris Evert, John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King and Charlotte’s own “Doctor Dirt,” Tim Wilkison. Still, we continue to look for ways to improve our member experience as well as our position in the world of tennis.