Mark Manning, 1959-2012
Mark Manning with his students
Services for Mark Manning were held Saturday, April 14, 2012 at C.P. Bannon Mortuary and an afternoon of youth tennis was held in his honor at Davie Tennis Stadium in Piedmont. Television coverage by KTVU.
On March 29, 2012 we lost a local tennis hero, former USTA NorCal Board Member, Diversity Committee Chair, Junior Council Chair and tireless tennis advocate. Mark Manning served the Northern California tennis community and the youth in the East Oakland area for over three decades. He was the first African American to be elected as President of the Board of USTA Northern California Section and the first African American to be elected to that position from all of the 17 sections. He was a true trailblazer.
A former City of Oakland fireman, Mark ran the Elmhurst Youth Tennis Center and spent numerous years devoting his time to positively impacting young people through the vehicle of tennis. Many USTA NorCal Diversity Scholarship recipients have credited Mark for their success on the court and int he classroom.
Mark was also a member of the Oakland City Tennis Advisory Committee, a group of tennis enthusiasts devoted to improving tennis facilities and programs within the city of Oakland. . He was an active member and chairperson of the USTA NorCal Multicultural Participation Committee (now called the Diversity Committee). For many years, Mark was a member of and chair of the USTA NorCal Junior Council.
A recipient of many USTA national, section and community awards, Mark was honored in 1992 by USTA NorCal with the Service to Tennis Award, which recognizes significant contributions to the game of tennis over a period of many years and is considered one of USTA NorCal’s highest honors. The USTA honored Mark in 1994 with an award for his contributions to developing tennis through community programs. Mark received the USTA NorCal Diversity Leadership award in 2002 for outstanding coaching, mentoring and leadership in the multicultural tennis community.
Throughout his career he championed the cause of providing accessibility to under served individuals, who otherwise would never consider tennis as a sport of choice. Junior tennis players knew Mark best as the tournament director at the USTA sanctioned Oakland Open held at Laney College. He was very proud of charging the lowest entry fee and providing biggest trophies.
His work in the community has impacted the lives of many young men and women. Mark offered his services at no cost. "Everything I have done has just been in a couple of blocks on 98th Avenue in East Oakland," he said, sitting in his office, before picking up a van full of kids. "Now I get the kids in the tennis program involved here. They do their homework on the computers, and learn a job in the warehouse in back. Then I hire them. And I pay them good."
Mark’s work is an example of what one individual’s passion and civic pride can do to help guide youth onto the path of success and ultimately impact their community in positive, productive ways.
USTA NorCal Board President, Michael Cooke: "Mark was an outspoken advocate for the kids he worked with in the City of Oakland. You would always hear Mark saying 'Let’s do this for the kids'. His rugged determination towards leading inner city youth into tennis as their 'Sport of Opportunity' helped many stay in school, complete high school and go on to college. The City of Oakland and the USTA NorCal Section has lost another champion. Mark will truly be missed."
Steve Leube, USTA NorCal Executive Director has known Mark for over 20 years, "Yesterday we lost a man who was a pioneer and true advocate of youth tennis in NorCal! Through Mark Manning's relentless drive to bring tennis to disadvantage kids, he showed how they could positively impact their lives. Mark's generosity, energy and passion for the game became the voice of tennis for those that would otherwise not be part of the game of tennis. Mark was a friend, educator and mentor and we have lost a man who inspired people to achieve greatness through the game of tennis!"
USTA NorCal Diversity and Outreach Specialist, Silvia Duenas-Bielser: "Working with Mark has been one of the highlights of my time at USTA NorCal. His passion and dedication to children of color and making sure that everyone had equal access to the game was infectious. His loss has created a big void not only at USTA NorCal, but in the greater Oakland community where he worked tirelessly with many parents and kids. "
Former USTA NorCal Director of Diversity, Sharon Smith-Mauney worked closely with Mark throughout her 17 year tenure: "My heart, as were undoubtedly thousands of others, was shattered by the news of Mark Manning’s passing. He was a dynamic and unconventional force to be reckoned with on and off the tennis court. His undeniable presence and vision left its mark everywhere from the corner of 98th and B streets in East Oakland where he founded his first program, to City Hall where he lobbied for continued funding for tennis facilities and programming throughout Oakland, to the boardrooms of the USTA."
"While he will always be renown as the larger-than-life pioneer who broke countless barriers in the tennis community---his ascent to become the first African American board president in USTA NorCal history was one of his many milestones that will stand the test of time—I will always remember him as an exceptional man from unexceptional circumstances whose caring and generous spirit moved mountains and inspired us all to think a little bigger, try a little harder and give a little more in a quest to serve others."
"Arthur Ashe once said that "true heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost." The NorCal tennis community lost a true hero and role model yesterday. I have lost an extraordinary and irreplaceable friend."
USTA NorCal is proud to call Mark Manning one of its own. His legacy will be kept alive through the youth he mentored and the programs he championed. He will never be forgotten.