Arthur Ashe was an American hero fighting battles both on and off the court.
He broke barriers in the tennis world, becoming the first African-American male to win a Grand Slam tournament and finishing his career with three Grand Slam titles, including the 1968 US Open.
Off the court, he was a social activist taking on issues like racial prejudice, AIDS, apartheid and education. One of his many legacies includes National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL), a network of youth-serving organizations that provide tennis and education for all. His wish was for NJTL to be a resource for kids to develop skills for leadership and academic excellence.
This year, the Arthur Ashe Essay Contest asked USTA/NJTL participants to explain in 300 words or less “THE QUESTION”:
Charlie Pasarell is one of the Founders of National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL). NJTL has impacted millions of kids throughout the country over the past 46 years. The game of tennis serves as a mechanism to break down barriers and bring people of diverse backgrounds together. This was true in Charlie Pasarell’s and Arthur Ashe’s era, and still holds true today.
So it was asked:
Who is a local NJTL hero in your community that resembles what Mr. Pasarell has done through NJTL?
Also this year, contestants in the 15/16 and 17/18 age categories were asked to include a photograph of their local NJTL hero and incorporate an explanation of the photo and its significance as part of his or her essay.
Winners received a trip to New York City that included attending Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day at the U.S. Open, attend a professional sporting event, see a Broadway show and receive a special award at a luncheon held in their honor.
Boys & Girls 10 and Under
Jay Doscher, 10, North Wales, Pa. New York Junior Tennis and Learning (NYJTL)
Kelly Mejia Solares, 9, Delray Beach, Fla Tennis PALs
Boys & Girls 11/12
Alfredo Reyes Jr., 12, Jacksonville, Fla. MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation
Lindsey Lunn, 11, Greenville, Miss. Four Aces CTA NJTL
Boys & Girls 13/14
Colston Streit, 14, Indianapolis, Ind. NJTL of Indianapolis
Mia Oliver, 14, Denver, Colo. East Side Tennis Association
Boys & Girls 15/16
CD Lonnie Watkins, 16, Atlanta, Ga. Coach Wink’s NJTL
Camile Quick, 16, Atlanta, Ga. Atlanta Youth Tennis & Education Foundation
Boys & Girls 17/18
Christian Ruas, 1, Minneapolis , Minn. Fred Wells Tennis & Education Center
Mikayla Smith, 17, DeSoto, Tex. NJTL of Dallas
View Additional Information about the 2015 Arthur Ashe Essay Contest
Additional RESOURCES for this year included: