In October 2001, Smith retired from a 15-year stint at USA Today where he was recognized as one of the world’s most preeminent and influential tennis writers. He covered numerous tennis events each year, including the Grand Slams – Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open. In addition, Smith wrote a column – “Match Points” – on the USA Today website. Since his ‘retirement, Smith has worked as a freelance journalist for several publications, including USA Today and The New York Times. He wrote the opening day story for USA Today’s coverage of the 2016 Wimbledon Championships.
Smith routinely broke news in the tennis world. His 1992 world exclusive on the late Arthur Ashe having contracted AIDS prompted years of useful discourse in newsrooms, as well as in the nation’s journalism schools. He wrote numerous cover stores and introspective features on the superstars of tennis – Andre Agassi, Jennifer Capriati, Pete Sampras and the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena. Junior players consistently sought the byline – “By Doug Smith” as he monitored their development.
In recognition of his sustained excellence in tennis reporting and writing, Smith is the recipient of numerous awards, including the U.S. Tennis Association Lifetime Achievement Award (1988), the Women’s Tennis Association Media Person of the Year (1989, 1995), and the Tennis Week Great American Writing Award (for deadline writing) in 1990 and 2000.
Although tennis has been his major racket, Smith distinguished himself in writing about other sports throughout his career. Less than a month after joining USA Today, he became the lead reporter on the paper’s coverage of the death of Len Bias. Smith got an exclusive interview with Bias’ parents for a cover story and assisted with other stories in the paper’s two-part series about the Maryland basketball star, who died of a cocaine overdose in 1986.
Also, Smith covered many NFL games, including the 2001 Super Bowl in Tampa. He reported on the 1997 Masters, where Tiger Woods notched his first major title, the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary and the Olympics Summer Games in Barcelona (1992) and in Atlanta (1996).
Smith is a 1964 graduate of Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia, where he majored in mathematics. He was a member of the University’s CIAA championship tennis team (1961-62 and 1964).
He entered the U.S. Army as a commissioned officer in June 1964; served as a battery commander at a nuclear missile site in Fairbanks, Alaska (1966-67), and also commanded troops under combat conditions in Vietnam (1968-69). Smith was awarded the Bronze Star with “V” device for heroism in action, the Purple Heart and the Army Commendation Medal. He left the Army with the rank of Captain in 1970.
Doug Smith is an award-winning journalist with more than 30 years of successful achievement as an editor and writer with three of the most influential newspapers in the United States – Newsday, The New York Post and USA Today.
Doug began his journalism career at Long Island’s Newsday in Sept. 1970. In 1973, he was the beat reporter for the New York Nets who were led by superstar Julius “Dr. J” Erving. In 1977, Smith joined the New York Post where he covered the New York Knicks during the period when Clyde Frazier and Earl “the Pearl” Monroe formed the backcourt and former Knicks center, Willis Reed, was the rookie coach.
Smith also made important contributions to the world of book publishing as an editor and writer. In 1992, he edited and updated Ashe’s three-volume book, Hard Road to Glory: A History of the Black Athlete in America, originally published in 1988 by Amistad Press. In a collaborative effort with former tennis pro Zina Garrison, Smith wrote her autobiography – Zina, My Life in Women’s Tennis – published in May 2001 by North Atlantic Books (Berkeley, California).
In September 1993, Smith was granted a one-year sabbatical leave from USA Today to serve as a visiting distinguished professor of journalism at his alma mater, Hampton University, where he taught basic journalism and commentary writing. In 2002, he returned to Hampton as a assistant professor of journalism and taught several courses, including Sports Writing and Ethics.
Smith completed a second book, Whirlwind, the Godfather of Black Tennis, published by Blue Eagle Publishing, which is owned by Smith and his two sons, Jerome and Jared. Whirlwind is a biography of the late Dr. R. Walter Johnson, who trained hundreds of promising black junior tennis players, including tennis greats Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe, on his backyard court in Lynchburg, Va. Whirlwind won Writers Notes Magazine’s Book of the Year award in 2004. In July 2009, Dr. Johnson was posthumously inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
In 2012, Smith’s first novel, Same Same, a murder mystery that unfolds during Barack Obama’s rise to the presidency, was released. The novel traces the friendship of two talented newspaper columnists and lifelong friends – Samuel Lewis and Hamilton Armstrong. Sam, who is black, offers political commentary from a conservative perspective; Ham, who is white, pens the liberal view. The book won an Honorable Mention citation in the 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Awards for General Fiction.
Smith maintains an active personal interest in sports, including those that he has attained a degree of mastery – table tennis and tennis. He writes occasionally about sports and politics on his blog – thedougsmithpost.com. He is continuing to ponder his golf game.
My Whirlwind Biography
(Whirlwind, the Godfather of Black Tennis) – R. Walter (Whirlwind) Johnson, a Lynchburg, Va. physician, was the first African American physician to receive practice rights at Lynchburg (VA) General Hospital. In 2009, he became the third African American inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, joining his proteges – tennis greats Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe. Johnson was recognized as a Contributor.