Virginia Glass has traveled an incredible road in life — from spending three years in World War II concentration camps in her native homeland of the Philippines, where she lost her father and two sisters — to now living in “America’s Finest City.” Along the way, Glass developed a passion for tennis in all aspects — playing, coaching, running tournaments and working with many organizations associated with the sport.Her passion and hard work has earned her numerous awards and distinctions over the years. The most recent honor has culminated in her election to the San Diego Tennis Hall of Fame.
“Being elected is an acknowledgement and recognition of the efforts I have made to opening up tennis to minorities,” said Glass, a Point Loma resident. “I have been working in the San Diego tennis community for 25 years.”One of her achievements during that period was being among the founders of the Mountain View Sports and Racquet Club in Southeast San Diego.
“Our main emphasis with the club has always been on the development of junior players,” Glass said. “The National Junior Tennis League (NJTL), inspired by the late tennis great Arthur Ashe, has been a huge help to our efforts.”Yet despite opportunities presented by the NJTL and the influence of professional African-American players like Venus and Serena Williams, Glass — who at one time was ranked number one in the world in the 60-and-over age division — is worried about access to the sport — especially for those from lower-income areas of U.S. cities.
“Tennis participation is going very well if you look at the sport from the angle of private clubs and adult leagues,” she said. “But in terms of city parks and recreation departments and diminishing budgets, tennis facilities are being locked up or shut down altogether.” Glass, who has served as president of the American Tennis Association, the oldest African-American sports organization in the United States, still sees more junior girls participating in tennis than boys.
“Boys have more opportunities available to them with baseball, football and basketball,” Glass said. “As well, in team sports the rewards are often easier to reach than an individual sport like tennis, which can be very expensive in terms of travel and coaching costs. Girls generally have less to keep them busy when it comes to sports, but fortunately tennis is one option.” Joining Glass in the San Diego Tennis Hall of Fame 2010 class of inductees were Robert Bacon, Patricia Canning Todd, Robert Perry and Larry Willens.