Updated: May 25
All the buzz around the courts lately has revolved around preparing for one of our favorite events of the year: the 2nd Annual Cy King Summer Classic! This event encapsulates three action packed and exciting tennis tournaments; Adult Doubles & Mixed (June 3-5), L6 Junior Challenger (June 11-12), and the Pro-Am Fundraiser (June 10).
In addition to being a fantastic time for the Raleigh tennis community to gather and play our favorite game, the Cy King Summer Classic honors beloved Raleigh native and lifelong local tennis advocate, Cy King. It is safe to say that Cy’s work in the Raleigh community has been instrumental in transforming Raleigh into the community of tennis that we love today.
Cy got started playing tennis when he was young, learning a love for the game from his father—another Raleigh native and lifelong tennis player, playing well into his 80’s. As Cy grew up, he continued pursuing tennis passionately, and found a way to combine tennis with another passion of his—public service—when he became the first Raleigh public tennis director in 1974.
Initially, Cy intended to only work as the City of Raleigh public tennis director for a few years until he figured out what he wanted to do next. But, Cy quickly grew to love the job because it allowed him the ability to make a living doing something that he loved and gave him a sense of purpose. Cy remarks about the experience, “I found that it was very fulfilling to give everyone regardless of economic or social status the types of experiences that had meant so much to me growing up and, in doing so, hopefully making my parents [who were lifelong social activists in the Raleigh area] proud.”
This role was his first step into a fulfilling and varied career within the Raleigh tennis community. Cy went on to establish a youth league that eventually became affiliated with the National Junior Tennis League (NJTL) program.The NJTL program continued to grow and prosper; and in 1996 the Raleigh program won National NJTL Chapter of the Year. Today, the now-named National Junior Tennis and Learning Network continues to bring tennis to any child who wants to give tennis a try and promotes Arthur Ashe’s emphasis on education. Cy remembers his work with the NJTL (on the local regional and National levels) as being deeply satisfying.
In addition to serving as Public Tennis Director for the Raleigh Parks system, King’s long and committed career in tennis advocacy and service included volunteering for the USTA at the state, section and National levels; coaching the William Peace University women’s tennis team; serving as GM of the Raleigh Racquet Club; and working for the USTA as the USTA Southern Tennis Service Representative for North Carolina.
One of Cy’s favorite things about being a part of the Raleigh tennis community is all of the great people that he has gotten to know over the years. Cy says, “In many cases I know parents, children and grandchildren. Our area has a rich history in tennis and I feel privileged to be part of a great community.”
Since retiring in 2020, Cy spends his time between Raleigh and his house in Black Mountain. He enthusiastically enjoys playing tennis regularly and even admits to venturing out on the golf course a bit, although he never keeps score.:) He is hoping to be able to do some traveling in the future, a joy which Covid put a halt to until quite recently. Cy says of the retired life, “Life is good and I feel very fortunate.”
It is in large part because of Cy that the Raleigh Tennis Association is a North Carolina National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) Chapter, supported by the USTA Foundation. Inspired by Cy King and our efforts as an NJTL, our programming continues the work that Cy pioneered, offering youth their first exposure to tennis and providing additional opportunities for life-long learning through clinics, after school programming, camps, tournaments, and supplemental academic coursework.
Come out to the 2nd Annual Cy King Summer Class Pro-Am Fund-Raiser this summer for the chance to meet Cy, and get to enjoy watching—or even playing alongside—a participating pro!
Proceeds from the adult tournament and Pro-Am will go to the Cy King Community Tennis Fund, created by the Raleigh Tennis Association to provide small application-based grants for local under-resourced youth and youth impacted through NJTL programs in Raleigh. Funds raised help ensure that tennis exists for all youth to try the game, learn the skills, and compete in match play.