Hall of Fame Induction: 2010
Graham's passion for the game and his boundless energy and leadership skills were instrumental in turning the Chicago area into a paddle "hot-bed" that now accounts for almost a third of APTA membership and is home to the largest of the APTA member leagues. Alan plays a prominent role in the Chicago Charities as well as National Tournaments held in the area, and holds two Men's 60+ and one Men's 55+ titles.
Alan Graham earned distinction as a three-time Senior Men’s National Champion, twice in the 60+ (2002, 2003) and once in the 55+ (1999), and by finishing as a finalist three times, in the National 50+ (1997), 60+ (2004), and 65+ (2008). His ideas, leadership, and relentless energy also lead to the growth of platform tennis in Chicago. Graham taught the game, both as a volunteer and as a professional, for more than 40 years, and he was a mentor to countless up-and-coming players. Alan was also the driver behind the growth of junior clinics and tournaments in the Chicago area. He co-chaired the 2006 Nationals in Chicago, and had prominent roles in many other National Championships held in the city, as well as with the Chicago Charities. Largely through his efforts, approximately one-third of all APTA members now come from Chicago.
When Alan became head of the Chicago Men’s League in the mid 1990s, the league had 70 men’s teams from 20 clubs with approximately 850 players. There was just one park district program in the league, and very few health clubs. Believing that the growth of the game would depend on expanding public facilities, and not just those in private clubs, he set about making it easier for these entities to join the league. In many cases, he went well beyond this, helping individual park districts and health clubs justify why they should add platform tennis to their program, and then helping to nurture these young programs until they were able to stand on their own. These efforts and others bore fruit. At the time of his induction, the league had a remarkable 2,800 men playing on 198 teams from 31 clubs and park districts. His leadership and the “buzz” he created was a significant factor in growing the women’s league at a similar rate, with 1,400 women soon participating in league play.
Always looking for ways to create more of a sense of “community” within the large, and ever expanding Men’s League, Graham created an annual end-of-season event in which 500+ men mingle in a parking lot to watch nationally-ranked players compete in League finals matches. Alan also served as Chairman of the Chicago Platform Tennis Charities, Inc., which runs a number of tournaments annually, involving thousands of players, and raising money for some 20 local charities. One of these events, the Series Tournament, may be the largest in the country and involves over 140 teams playing over one and a half days.
On the National level, Graham served as a member of the APTA Board from 2000 to 2005 and enthusiastically supported its efforts to expand League Memberships. He brought both the Chicago Men’s and Women’s Leagues on board, mandating that all league players become APTA members. This resulted in annual contributions to the APTA of approximately $70,000, compared with $3,000 beforehand. Today, Chicago is the largest of the APTA member leagues.