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Remembering tennis legend Armistead Neely

Remembering tennis legend Armistead Neely

Armistead Neely, born March 19, 1947 in Tampa, lost a lengthy battle with cancer on March 7, 2024. He is survived by Alice Pendergrast, his wife of forty some years. They lived in the Atlanta area for several decades.

Armistead was one of the best players in the state and the country since he first began playing tennis at an early age. He was one of the top collegiate players, as well. He played at the University of Florida, together with Steve Beeland, Jamie Presley, Charlie Owens, Gregg Hilley, Lee Steele, Paul Lunetta and others. They were SEC champions two times. Armi played number 1 and was an All-American.

Source: USTA Southern

He enjoyed a lengthy professional career and competed all over the world for decades. In the Senior divisions, he was a National Champion most of the time from the 35 and overs to the 70 and overs. When he wasn’t the number 1 player, he was always in the top 5. He coached at the University of Alabama for several years, too.

However, he will always be remembered for creating the “Watch Circuit” in the early ’70s, together with Larry Turville, when the game of tennis “opened up” and money entered the game. He was a tennis pro in Atlanta for the last 50 years of his life. He was inducted into the Southern Hall of Fame, the Georgia Hall of Fame, as well as the University of Florida’s Hall of Fame.

More than anything else, though, he will be remembered as a wonderful man who was loved, respected and revered by all who knew him.


Written by Pierce Kelley. In 2022, Kelley was inducted into the USTA Florida Hall of Fame. He's the Immediate Past President of the Youth Tennis Foundation (YTF) where he's helped create hundreds of tennis programs for the tennis community. Top photo: Armistead Neely is pictured with his long-time friend Pierce Kelley (courtesy of Pierce Kelley).

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