The legacy of tennis icon Althea Gibson lives on among talented young players.
A group of 10 youngsters were chosen from a pool of more than 2,800 entrants after being asked to pen an essay about how lessons learned on the tennis court can help development and character off it.
The Arthur Ashe Essay Contest was open to students 18 and younger who participate in National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) programs across the country.
This year’s essay contest focused on tennis legend and pioneer Althea Gibson and her ability to show unwavering strength and courage in the face of adversity. That enabled her to become a trailblazer in the tennis world as the first African-American Grand Slam and U.S. Championships winner.
This year’s question asked:
“How have your skills in tennis impacted the development of your character and how you address your personal challenges on and off the court?”
The winners were honored at the Yale Club in New York City and invited to Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day, where they received the VIP status in the President’s Box.
The weekend wraped up with an awards luncheon on Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016 hosted by USTA Foundation chairman and former world No. 4 James Blake and former New York City mayor and USTA board member David Dinkins. The luncheon was held at the Yale Club, where the essay contest winners received an honorary plaque.
This marked the 18th annual contest hosted by the USTA Foundation, the national charitable organization of the United States Tennis Association.
“This year’s Arthur Ashe Essay contest winners consist of a talented group of students from some of our most outstanding NJTL programs,” said Dan Faber, USTA Foundation executive director. “We expanded the focus of our essay question and challenged the students to reflect on the great achievements of Althea Gibson. This year’s responses were some of the most phenomenal ones we’ve read as they truly highlighted their individual experiences and personal strengths as a result of the positive impact tennis has had on their lives. We are proud of their hard work.”
In January 2014, the USTA Foundation combined with USTA NJTL, a national network of 500 community-based tennis and education programs serving more than 225,000 youth, to become a fully operational foundation. NJTL has impacted millions of kids throughout the country over the past 47years, making it the largest grass-roots tennis program in the United States.
The 10 winners of the 2016 NJTL Arthur Ashe Essay Contest were selected in the following categories:
Boys & Girls 10 and Under
Emeric Sery, 10, Washington, D.C. (Washington Tennis and Education Foundation)
Wiltchenie Cadet, 10, Lake Worth, Fla. (Delray Beach Youth Tennis Foundation)
Boys & Girls 11/12
Edderek Cole, 11, Jackson, Miss. (Jackson Community Tennis Project)
Ashley Marin Factor, 11, Portland, Ore. (Portland Tennis and Education)
Boys & Girls 13/14
Miles Ponds, 13, Washington, D.C. (Metropolitan Tennis and Education Group)
Sophia Schutte, 14, Thomaston, N.Y. (New York Junior Tennis and Learning)
Boys & Girls 15/16
Mukasa Ricketts, 16, Dallas (Dallas Tennis Association)
Catherine Thomas, 16, Houston (Houston Tennis Association)
Boys & Girls 17/18
Charles Taylor, 17, Park City, Kan. (McAdams Community Tennis Foundation)
Chloe Henderson, 18, Las Vegas (Marty Hennessy Inspiring Children Foundation)
2016 ARTHUR ASHE ESSAY CONTEST
The 18th Annual Arthur Ashe Essay Contest is held annually by the USTA/NJTL.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.
Althea Gibson was an American tennis player and professional golfer, and the first black athlete to cross the color line of international tennis at a time when racism and prejudice were widespread in sports and in society . In 1956, she became the first person of color to win a Grand Slam title (the French Open). The following year she won both Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals (precursor of the U.S. Open), then won both again in 1958, and was voted Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press in both years. In all, she won 11 Grand Slam tournaments, including six doubles titles, and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame. Althea Gibson’s ability to show unwavering strength and courage in the face of adversity enabled her to become a trailblazer in the tennis world…
…so it was asked:
How have your skills in tennis impacted the development of your character and how you address your personal challenges on and off the court?
RULES FOR ENTRY AND DEADLINES
Entries, including completed entry form, must be submitted online to the USTA Foundation or mailed/hand-delivered to your local NJTL Chapter by June 25, 2016 at 5:00 p.m. ET (mail-in entries must be postmarked by June 25, 2016 and received by your local NJTL Chapter no later than July 2, 2016).
– Contest begins.
– All hard copy entries submitted must be received by the NJTL chapter.
– All hard copies due to the national office in White Plains from NJTL chapter leaders
– Contest ends, all online submissions must be submitted before 11:59 p.m. ET
2016 Official Contest Entry Form
2015 Arthur Ashe Essay Contest Winners
THE 17TH ANNUAL ARTHUR ASHE ESSAY CONTEST IS HELD ANNUALLY BY THE USTA/NJTL.
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:
CONTEST RELEASE WAIVER FORM
2015 OFFICIAL CONTEST ENTRY FORM – ENGLISH
2015 OFFICIAL CONTEST ENTRY FORM – SPANISH