Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education announces new name; Ashe ‘Legacy’ lives on

Three months after Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education (AAYTE) announced it would be changing its name due to licensing issues, the tennis nonprofit unveiled its new official name: Legacy Youth Tennis and Education. 

The well-anticipated reveal took place on Wednesday through scrambled letters on large pieces of cardboard. Six children holding the letters were told to unscramble them, which ultimately led to the unveiling of the word “Legacy”. In addition, a banner was unraveled under a pavilion with tennis balls placed into the fence to spell out the new name.

In March, Legacy president Kenny Holdsman told NewsWorks that the decision not to renew the licensing for the name ‘Arthur Ashe’—a name that has been in use for the past 10 years—was a mutual one between Arthur Ashe, Inc. and the East Falls nonprofit.

He said the reason for changing the name was due to misuse and violations of the licensing agreement by both media and families involved with the organization.

“We were licensed to use the full name, ‘Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education’ or ‘AAYTE’, and Arthur Ashe, Inc. entered into that licensing agreement with us in 2002,” he said. “No organization is licensed to just use Ashe or Arthur Ashe, but instead their full name or acronym.”

Upholding the Arthur Ashe legacy

Since the organization itself was not at fault and had no control over correcting the problem, Holdsman said the logical thing to do was to simply change the name.

But the organization wanted to keep their founding principles in tact.

Arthur Ashe himself first became involved with the organization when a building was gifted to the Philadelphia National Youth Tennis League in the 90s. The building was dubbed the Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis Center, with verbal approval from Ashe.

Ashe remained involved with the organization until his death in 1993.

After a massive expansion, the organization received the stamp of approval from Arthur Ashe, Inc. to change its name to Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education in 2002.

Because of the organization’s history with Ashe, Holdsman said it was important to uphold his legacy and announced in March that the tagline would be: “Inspired by the legacy of Arthur Ashe.” That phrase was tweaked since March to become: “Inspired by the life of Arthur Ashe.”

For both parents and staff, the name change is bittersweet.

Lance Lee, vice president of Tennis and National Partnerships, explains.

“I can’t pretend that when I heard the news it didn’t hurt me,” he said. “I’ll miss the name, but what I won’t miss is my colleagues, the board members, the people that make this place go. None of that is going to change.”

He added: “We’re inspired to push even harder to continue our mission.”

‘More than a tennis center’ 

Meanwhile, Patty Scheinfield, a parent who’s been involved with the organization for the past 10 years expressed her understanding for the decision. 

“I don’t love it,” said Scheinfield. “It’s kind of an unusual name for a tennis center but since I know why they selected it, I understand.”

Scheinfield added that she feels ‘Legacy’ doesn’t carry the same recognizable charm that the name ‘Arthur Ashe’ does. But then again, she said she’s happy the nonprofit stuck with its theme of helping children not only be good tennis players but to be good students and citizens.

“It is more than a tennis center,” she added.

Rhonda Allen, whose daughter has been playing tennis at the center for the past four years, said that although the change will take a while getting used to, it’s just a name.

“Initially it was a shock but we were OK with it,” she said. “When they said that the parents could submit names, [my daughter] said, ‘mom I’m going to put a vote in for Arthur Ashe again.’ I had to tighten the reins on that one.”

To check out Legacy Youth Tennis and Education’s new website, go to legacyyte.org

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.