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In Washington, she wore a dark pants suit with a purple sweater.In her official USTA head shot, she has a dark jacket over a purple blouse."I went to Northwestern," Adams said.

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The first vice president traditionally moves up to president after two years."Katrina has had her eye on this for a long, long time," King said. She is a very opinionated person, which is good, but she also listens very well, which makes her a perfect president of the USTA."Adams had been going back and forth between residences in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., and New York until January, when she moved full time to a home near the USTA office in White Plains. She figures the more visible she is, the more chances she will get to excite kids and their parents about tennis."When she was first talking about going pro, I told her, 'You've got to go to medical school,' '' said Williams, who teamed with Adams to win the 1986 ATA national mixed-doubles title.The men's side is more problematic, with 20th-ranked John Isner the only U. player currently in the top 40."There are some young boys emerging," Adams said, citing 17-year-old Marylander Francis Tiafoe, son of immigrants from Sierra Leone, winner of prestigious junior events in 20. Open Partner Summit, a gathering of the tournament's sponsors, and she would cram in a mid-afternoon meeting before catching an early-evening flight to Washington.Adams was talking between hurried bites of a sandwich at a midtown Manhattan hotel a day before she took part in an Aspen Institute symposium on youth sports in Washington. The following week, she would go from the Black Enterprise Magazine Women of Power Summit in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to a Davis Cup match in Scotland. Danny Davis, D-Ill., Introspect Youth Services, the Martin Luther King Boys Cub and the Chicago Park District."She knew what she wanted."It wasn't long before she was playing seven days a week, winter and summer, shuttled around the city and suburbs by her father, James, now 81, who taught at what was then called Crown Elementary School.By age 8, Adams had made the finals in the 10 & under division of nationals run by the American Tennis Association, founded in 1916 to give competitive opportunities — including national championships — to the many black players then excluded by the USTA."After two years at Northwestern, including an NCAA doubles title with Diane Donnelly in 1987, Adams had a better grasp of what a professional career could be.

She took the fall quarter of 1987 off from college to play as an amateur, trying to see if she could raise her singles ranking enough to get into the main draw (128 players) of Grand Slam tournaments, which Adams saw as the litmus test for becoming a pro.

Her pleas got the attention of Kim Williams, a summer instructor about to begin medical school at the University of Chicago. It wasn't long before Adams, who calls herself a visual learner, was better than some of the 12-year-old boys in the program."She rises to the top of whatever she approaches," said Williams, now chief of cardiology at Rush University Medical Center. So it is, when Adams returned Friday to the place where this all began, it was for an event at the Garfield Park Conservatory called "A Salute to Katrina Adams." As everyone celebrates her history-making ascent, Adams will be thinking of how she can use her time at the top to help build a new talent base for a sport that struggles to command attention in this country.

Earlier this year, Adams became the first African-American and first former pro player to be president and CEO of the USTA, a 134-year-old organization that had barred black athletes from its premier event, the U. At 46, Adams is the youngest of the 53 people (among them just four women) who have been the USTA leader, an unpaid, volunteer position.

The little girl wanted to play, especially because she felt she could master the tennis skills she saw being taught better than the older kids flailing away with their rackets.

Adams begged to get on the court in a way she is certain wore down everyone's resistance."I don't take no for an answer," she said. Open), until 1950, when it allowed Althea Gibson to compete.

Soon after, she would be good enough to practice and play at many clubs where black faces were few."For some reason, the luck of the draw would be the African-American kids would play each other or the No.