By Dana Czapnik, USTA.com
Each year, children from across the country join together in box seats at the US Open to take in the excitement of Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day and are treated to a special weekend in New York City. Their common bond? They all have a unique and thoughtful understanding of the teachings of Arthur Ashe and have been able to articulate them in essays they submitted to the annual USTA/NJTL Arthur Ashe Essay Contest.
This year, the 10 winners of the 15th annual USTA/NJTL Arthur Ashe Essay Contest, ranging in ages from 10 to 18, were selected out of 1,800 entries. Each winner receives round-trip airfare to New York City for themselves and a parent or legal guardian, two nights stay at the Grand Hyatt 42nd Street, tickets to a professional sporting event and President’s Box tickets to the 2013 Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day presented by Hess on Aug. 24 at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
The weekend wraps up with an awards luncheon on Aug. 25, hosted by former New York City Mayor and USTA Board Member David Dinkins, where the winners will receive an honorary plaque.
To enter the contest, children were asked to write an essay of 350 words or less, responding to a specific question around Ashe and his great accomplishments. This year’s question was: "If you could follow in Arthur Ashe’s footsteps and ‘give back’ to tennis, what would you do to give back to the game and how would it impact others?"
A USTA subcommittee selected the winning essays based on knowledge of Arthur Ashe, message clarity and writing style.
"Once again, the annual Arthur Ashe essay contest provides an opportunity for NJTL students to showcase their talents through written expression," said Kurt Kamperman, USTA Chief Executive of Community Tennis. "This year’s essay question should generate some thoughtful responses in reflecting on the principles that Arthur stood for. In its 15th year, the essay contest continues to honor talented students who aspire to follow in his footsteps. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Arthur’s passing, and we are proud that his mission and legacy continues to thrive in NJTL programs throughout the country."
The 10 winners of the 2013 USTA/NJTL Arthur Ashe Essay Contest were selected in the following categories:
Boys/Girls 10 and Under
Derek Koon, 10, Philadelphia, Legacy Youth Tennis and Education NJTL
Jada Robinson, 9, Kansas City, Mo., Genesis School Inc. NJTL
Andrew Chiu, 12, San Francisco, Youth Tennis Advantage NJTL
Destiny Steward-Bowden, 11, Mount Vernon, N.Y., Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program NJTL
Alexander Exsted, 14, Savage, Minn., Inner City Tennis NJTL
Lily Colon, 14, Milwaukee, Milwaukee Tennis & Education Foundation NJTL
Chor In Lam, 15, Wilmington, Del., Rodney Street Tennis & Tutoring Association NJTL
Grace Tom, 16, Rego Park, N.Y., New York Junior Tennis and Learning NYJTL
Lalla Diakite, 17, New York, N.Y., Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program NJTL
Cody Stewart, 18, Duncanville, Texas, Dallas Tennis Association NJTL
Founded in 1969 by Arthur Ashe, along with Charlie Pasarell and Sheridan Snyder, the USTA/National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL) network is a nationwide group of more than 600 nonprofit youth development organizations that provide free or low-cost tennis, education and life-skills programming to more than 250,000 children each year. Celebrating its 43rd anniversary this year, NJTL is one of the USTA’s largest community-based offerings.
For more information about the USTA/NJTL Arthur Ashe Essay Contest, click here.
To learn more about the National Junior Tennis & Learning Program, which provides free or low cost tennis and teaches critical life skills to children at all ages and levels, click here.
For more on youth tennis, or to find a program or facility near you, go to YouthTennis.com