Racquet down, hands up: Triangle tennis community stands up against racial injustice

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Traci McCluney is a tennis captain for various leagues across the Triangle and ever since college, she's been pushing for change in the sport.

"I played in high school and I actually played on the men's team at NC Central," she said. "We didn't have a women's team when I went to school and I got on a little protest, rant, to get a women's team added, and so I played on the men's team for three years and then my senior year we finally got a women's team."

Now more than 20 years later, that same drive is urging the Triangle tennis community to stand up against racial injustice.

"Racism on the big scale is very difficult to tackle," McCluney said. "If we can just tackle it on the sport that we love, so if we can just start here local, that's kind of what we were aiming for."

Yubie Albert agreed.

"It's not just one person," Albert said. "It's not just Traci but everyone, and that's why coming from the Asian background, I need to get involved, I need to push that group and not just Asian but everyone from all nationalities, all colors all race needs to be involved."

McCluney got an idea after seeing a video that Francis Tiafoe, a professional tennis player, put together showing different minorities putting their racquets down and hands up. She sent a mass email asking whether local players would participate and in just two days, thanks to Albert, the Triangle tennis community put together its own video.

"I thought we would get six or seven but, in the end, we got almost 50 videos of people who are like, 'hey I support you, racquet down, hands up,'" McCluney said. "Hands up isn't just about a sign of police brutality, it's also a sign of my hands are out -- what can I do to help?"

Heather Remley said the idea reverberated with her.

"It was just very moving," Remley said. "It was one of those moments that really resonated with me where I really felt how big this was."

Albert said the project made him emotional.

"At first, when I got the videos, I was like 'oh this is cool,' but once I put it together -- and I'm not exaggerating -- I had teary eyes," Albert said. "When the first complete draft that I did I showed to my wife, she was bawling. I'm bawling, too, right now. It's stronger than I thought it would be and it's not just putting a video together but putting our heart out with this issue."

McCluney said she hopes this will help facilitate more inclusion in the sport and throughout the world.

"Anything I've ever believed in, I try to do my part," she said. "I struggle a little bit with being a face or the driver ... this one just hit a little close to me. So, I thought the sport where I do have a little confidence in, that I love so much -- why not start there?"
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