Our Mission Statement
To enhance and promote competitive tennis among age-level women players.
The National Senior Women's Tennis Association is a non-profit organization of tennis advocates who strive to raise the standards of age-level match play, fitness and sportsmanship in both individual and team competition. We are a growing network of more than 900+ competitive women members who actively interact with the United States Tennis Association (USTA), sponsor national tennis tournaments, and provide local support to tennis communities in the United States.
Our lives revolve around the sport of tennis as active players, coaches, USTA officials, sponsors, volunteers and mentors while traveling and forming valuable relationships in the process. Additionally, we serve on USTA and international ITF committees to improve the value of competitive tennis, nationally and around the world.
Former tennis tournament greats Nancy Reed, Betty Pratt and Charlene Grafton created the SWTA in 1974 in response to a growing constituency of women over 35 who who wanted to play competitive tennis in National Championships (renamed NSWTA in 1977). They believed the group needed its own organization to advocate for women. In 1974, Nancy Reed became the first Chairman of SWTA, Betty Pratt was Vice-Chair, and Nancy Penson was Secretary/Treasurer. She created and published the first SWTA magazine and Charlene Grafton was the Publicity Chair.
Gladys Heldman followed Nancy Reed as President and was well known as the founder of World Tennis Magazine in 1953. In 1970, she supported the “Original 9” women players by giving them a $1 bill to play and hosted the first professional women’s tournament, part of the women’s Virginia Slims tour. The nine included Billie Jean King, Valerie Ziegenfuss, Nancy Richey, Peaches Bartkowicz, Kristy Pigeon, promoter Gladys Heldman, Rosie Casals, Kerry Melville and Judy Dalton. During Gladys’s administration, the word “National” was added to the name of the Senior Women’s Tennis Association.
In the early days there was little money in the coffers, but thanks to the generosity of Dr. Hugh McCain of Winter Park, Florida, (where Nancy and Mary Ann Plante resided) the NSWTA was registered with the State of Florida as a 501(c)(4) not-for-profit corporation. Mary Ann served as Executive Secretary and Fran Wakefield was Secretary. The first annual membership meeting took place at the Houston Racquet Club, the site of the annual Clay Court Championships, the largest women’s senior tennis tournament in the country.
During the early years, Nancy, Mary Ann and Kay Merrill organized and ran the first SWTA tournament (40,50,60,70) at the Maitland Field Club in Maitland, Florida with $1000 in prize money. Shortly after, they formed the Les Grande Dames tour.
The NSWTA original logo designed with a lady in a long tennis dress was inspired by a photo of May Sutton Bundy from the early 1900’s. The current logo was created and adopted during the presidency of Mary McLean Wilson in 2003.