This time, all made it to the finals and represented the United States in an international match. Johnson and Eaton trained their teams to play every ball, including ones normally considered out of bounds. They did not want the team to be accused of cheating. This only made them better, stronger players. “They were doing us a favor. They were wise. I never heard in my whole life — around Dr. Johnson, Dr. Eaton, Althea Gibson or Arthur Ashe — one disparaging word about race and hate. Not one time. We were taught how to act. It was all by example. We were pre-pared to handle what was in front of us. If you could go through their regimen you were pre-pared to handle anything from a racial stand-point,” Simpson remembers. “It all started with Dr. Hubert Eaton. Incredible man.” After Simpson played a tournament in Washington, DC, a man, who remains anonymous to this day, approached Simpson about talking to Johnson about attending private school. Johnson and Eaton discussed the offer and agreed Simpson would benefit from a private educa-tion. Eaton knew the value of a good education. His own son, Hubert Jr., was in preparatory school in Connecticut. At age 12, Simpson left Williston Junior High School to attend the Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. 64 WBM february 2015 As the country desegregated, so did the USLTA. “But, sometimes the more things change, the more they remain the same,” Simpson says. He recalls competing at the National Boys Championship at Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan, at 13 years old. Ashe, who was 18, and Simpson were at the tournament alone. “If Ashe wins his match against Bobby Siska, from California, No. 1 player in the country, in the quarter finals, he gets nominated to be on the Junior Davis Cup team, the first African American ever to be on the team. He beats him and upsets Bobby Siska in a three-hour, 45-min-ute match,” Simpson recalls. After playing their respective matches, Simpson accompanied Ashe to turn in his scores. Everyone was congratulating him. Then, unexpectedly, Ashe was notified his next match would take place in 45 minutes. “What?” Ashe said. “No one else is playing their semi-finals match.” Simpson says, “But I never saw that guy angry. I never heard him say a curse word. Me? I’m crying, I’m angry. I say to Ashe, ‘Don’t you see what they are doing to you? This isn’t right! This is unfair!’” Ashe and Simpson returned to the dormitory where they were staying. Ashe said to Simpson: “I want you to sit down, I need to tell you something.” Simpson’s career could have gone either way at that point. But because of Ashe’s influence, his life was changed. Simpson’s career really took off when he was 15. In 1964, he played his first US Open, the youngest male ever to play at the time.
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