ITA Hall of Fame Feature: Katrina Adams

The 2024 NCAA Division I Championships are set to continue this weekend in Stillwater, Oklahoma, with players from across the country competing in hopes of capturing an NCAA title. Among those who have found success at the tournament include ITA Hall of Fame member Katrina Adams, who partnered with Diane Donnelley to win the NCAA Division I Women’s Doubles Championship in 1987. The dynamic duo did so without losing a single set and finished the season with a 24-match win streak, a 36-2 record and a two-year mark of 72-5.

To this day, Adams and Donnelly hold the Northwestern doubles record for most wins in a season (26 in 1986), consecutive matches won (21 in 1987), consecutive sets won (28 in 1987), best winning percentage (1.000, 21-0 in 1987) and fewest sets lost (2 in 1987). 

“As a junior player, my whole goal was to play college tennis,” expressed Adams when asked about her choice to play at the collegiate level. “My parents were both teachers and the ultimate goal was for me to earn a college scholarship.”

In addition to the numerous records broken and titles won, Adams led her team to the 1986 Big Ten Championship title, was a two-time first-team All-American, All-Big Ten pick in both singles and doubles, and was awarded the ITA Freshman of the Year in 1986.  

When reflecting on the experiences of being a student-athlete Adams stated, “Enjoy every moment that you have as a collegiate student-athlete, cherish it. You can’t get it back. Know that you are establishing lifelong relationships that will go with you until the end of time.” Adams continued on saying, “The experiences that you have as a student-athlete, the rah-rah moments, the highs, the lows, these are life experiences that will carry on with you through life, through your next journey, through your next chapter that you can gain moment with, that you can gain power with, you can gain knowledge with because it’s something that you cannot duplicate.”

After two seasons at Northwestern, Adams went on to compete on the WTA Tour for 12 years, capturing 20 career doubles titles and reaching the quarterfinals or better in doubles at all four Grand Slam events. 

Following her time playing at both the collegiate and professional level, Adams became a trailblazer in the world of business. In 2015, Adams was appointed as the first African American to lead the United States Tennis Association (USTA), the first two term Chairman and President of the organization and the first former player to hold the honor. Under her direction, many major milestones were achieved including the opening of the 100 court USTA National Campus in Orlando, the transformation of the $600 million USTA Billie Jean King National Center in Flushing Meadows and countless outreach efforts to underserved communities to share the sport of tennis. 

Adams has held and holds many other positions of power when it comes to the world of tennis, serving as the vice president of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) from 2015-2023, Chairman of the Billie Jean King Cup Committee, Chairman of the Gender Equality in Tennis Committee and the Executive Director of the Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program. During her time as the Vice President of the ITF, Adams was the driving force behind the Advantage All initiative, the creation of gender-balanced programs based on empowerment, balance, culture, value and voice. 

Adams’ continual determination to the world of tennis and equality has earned her many accolades including being named on Adweek magazine’s “Most Powerful Women in Sports” list twice (2016 and 2017), Forbes magazine’s “Most Powerful Women in Sports” list in 2017 and Ebony magazine’s “Power 100” list. Recently, she was honored by the International Olympic Committee on Friday with the IOC Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Champions Award in honor of her work championing diversity in tennis. Adams was inducted into the ITA Women’s Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame in 2014.

About the ITA Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame – The Intercollegiate Tennis Association Men’s and Women’s Halls of Fame aspire to preserve and celebrate the history and further the development of intercollegiate tennis through the collection of historic memorabilia and with inductions of notable players, coaches, and contributors.

About the ITA – The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) is the governing body and coaches association of college tennis, both an advocate and an authority for the sport and its members. Comprised of 1,260 colleges and universities, 20,000 student-athletes, 1,700 varsity programs, 3,000 coaches, and 1,350 college tennis officials, the ITA empowers college tennis coaches at all levels to deliver vibrant tennis programs that are vital to their college communities and transformational to their student-athletes. Follow the 2023-24 college tennis season on the ITA website and ITA social channels on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube.

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