Missouri Valley / Heart Of America

Two USTA Heart of America Players Win Quarterly Junior Sportsmanship Award

Sydney Hamilton | July 26, 2022

Sportsmanship is the backbone of sports, and tennis is no different. Displays of good sportsmanship help make playing fun, not fearful–which is especially important for junior players figuring out their love for the game at a young age.


It’s never too early to start teaching our junior players the importance of good sportsmanship, as its positive effects are far-reaching–both on and off the court. As such, USTA Missouri Valley likes to recognize junior players who exemplify the best in sportsmanship with the quarterly Junior Sportsmanship Award.


To be eligible for the award, male and female players in each age group (boys and girls 10, 12, 14, 16, and 18) are nominated by coaches, peers, officials, and others who have witnessed the player consistently practice positive leadership in tennis or in the community, as well as displaying good sportsmanship at tournaments or during leagues or circuits, throughout the year. Nominees must be USTA members and must not have had any Code of Conduct violations in the last 12 months.


USTA Heart of America is proud to announce that Micah Ward of Lawrence, KS, and Diya Gupta of Overland Park, KS, were two of the winners of the Junior Sportsmanship Awards for the second quarter of the year! 


When asked about what good sportsmanship means to him, Micah said, “Sportsmanship is important to me because most of the people I compete against are also my friends off the court. Plus, when I’m showing good sportsmanship, it also helps me to play my best.”


Micah’s parents, Jared and Christy Ward, have been instrumental in instilling in him the importance of being a good sport and the value it brings to him as a tennis player. 


“We've always encouraged Micah to view his opponent as someone who can push him to reach his highest levels, not an enemy to be fought with or feared,” they said. “While he's only 14 and has much to learn, it's been nice to see him embrace that concept and develop some amazing relationships on and off the court.”


Diya also strives to practice good sportsmanship each time she’s on the court. “Sportsmanship to me is to give my opponents the respect they deserve and treat them the same way I would like to be treated,” she said. “It means to be professional, positive, and calm, while still having fun."


We hope you’ll join us in congratulating Micah and Diya on a job well done, and rally with us to encourage them to continue keeping up the positivity into the next season and beyond.


Great job, Micah and Diya!


To learn more about the section-wide sportsmanship initiative or to nominate a peer for a quarterly award, please click here.


If you’d like to nominate a player for the annual USTA Heart of America Awards, please click here for more information.



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