Mary Ewing Outerbridge first discovered the game of tennis while vacationing in Bermuda with her family and friends. When she returned home to Staten Island in the spring of 1874 she brought tennis nets, racquets, tennis balls, and instructions. She set up the first tennis court in the United States on the grounds of the Staten Island Cricket and Baseball Club, which was near the current day location of the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. The first game of tennis in the United States was played between Mary and her sister Laura. It is unknown who prevailed in that contest.
The First National Lawn Tennis Tournament was held at the Staten Island Cricket and Baseball Club on September 1, 1880. This tournament was the stimulus for the formation of the United States National Lawn Tennis Association(today known as the USTA). It was Mary's brother, Eugenius H Outerbridge who organized this tournament and spearheaded the formation of a national governing body. In 1886 the Staten Island Cricket and Baseball Club, which would later be known as the Staten Island Cricket and Tennis Club relocated to the Delafield Estate in the Livingston section of Staten Island. Sadly, Mary Ewing Outerbridge succumbed to Bright's disease at the age of 34 and never played at the new location.
In the succeeding years Staten Island became a hot spot for American tennis and many tennis clubs were formed on the island. On June 9th 1915 a meeting was held at the Staten Island Cricket and Tennis Club to form the Staten Island Tennis League. The League is now known as the Staten Island Tennis Association. Attending the meeting were representatives from the following tennis clubs:
Castleton Park Tennis Association
Clifton Tennis Club
German Club of Staten Island
Manor Field Club
New Dorp Field Club
Prince's Bay Tennis Club
Richmond County Country Club
Richmond Park Field Club
Westerleigh Field Club
Westerleigh Tennis Club
From that original list of member clubs only the Richmond County Country Club and the Westerleigh Tennis Club still remain today. However the
SITA's mission to foster competition and sportsmanship still endures 100 years
later. The Staten Island Tennis Association serves to bring people together through the great sport of tennis.
SITA tournaments are open to all Staten Island residents, former Staten Island
residents or any other interested players with a connection to Staten Island. If you are interested in a participating in any of our events click on the Schedule for more info. If you are interested in joining our mailing list, send us a message through the Contact page.
The above history was compiled with the help of local tennis historian Pat Barry, who is considered an expert on Mary Ewing Outerbridge. An article written by Barry in the Staten Island Advance was used as the primary source for Outerbridge's story. Gregg Hansson provided the original document which detailed the formation of the SITA. Thank you to both.