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In the tenth grade, Simpson transferred to the Cheshire Academy in Connecticut. After high school graduation in 1968, Simpson wanted to attend college at Brown University, as his classmates were attend-ing Ivy League schools. He received offers from several schools, including Penn State, the University of Pennsylvania and UCLA, where Arthur Ashe went to school. Brown waitlisted Simpson. But he chose a school that welcomed black players and offered a scholarship — East Tennessee State University. A week later, Brown made an offer. But, a man of his word, Simpson went to Johnson City to attend ETSU. There he majored in physical education and minored in psychology, was ranked No. 1 in the Ohio Valley Conference for three straight years and met his future wife, JoAnn. He also played basketball for East Tennessee State. The summer before his college gradu-ation, Simpson took a tennis director position in West Bloomfield, Michigan. In 1973, he graduated from college and turned professional. He and JoAnn married on June 1, 1973. I In 1974, Simpson was the first African American to play World Team Tennis for the Detroit Loves and he qualified for Wimbledon. He remained on the profes-sional circuit, playing across the country until 1980, when he left to start a tennis business and a family. “Ashe was angry about that. But I wanted a family,” he says. Simpson and JoAnn moved from Michigan to Tennessee, where he ran tennis programs and clubs and raised two daughters, Celeste and Jennifer. The couple co-owned an indoor/ outdoor racquet club from 2005-2010. Simpson was inducted into the Cheshire Academy Hall of Fame in 1989, the North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame in 2011, the Greater Wilmington Sports of Hall of Fame in 2012, the Black Tennis Hall of Fame in August 2014 and the Hill School Basketball Hall of Fame in November 2014. He is also featured in Breaking the Barriers: The ATA and Black Tennis Pioneers exhibit at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. 67 www.wrightsvillebeachmagazine.com WBM


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