Born in New Orleans in the late 1920s, Nehemiah Atkinson was engaged by the sport of tennis at an early age. Despite the realities of racial barriers during those times, Atkinson did not let them discourage his love of the game, developing into a standout player who would go on to give lessons to hundreds of young players from all different ethnic backgrounds. He spent 23 years as a tennis instructor and supervisor for the New Orleans Recreation Department, retiring in 1995. He was also an active volunteer with the American Tennis Association and the established the Nehemiah Atkinson Scholarship Foundation.
Amazingly, Atkinson never let age affect his enjoyment of the game either. Still playing at a high-level into his 80s, he won four gold balls in national and international competition in 1999, including winning the National Hardcourt Championship (Men's 80s Age Bracket) in San Diego.