Huang, Schrage named

National Junior Scholar Athletes

Sally Milano  |  June 8, 2017

For the sixth year, the USTA is honoring high school tennis players with its National Junior Scholar Athlete Award, which recognizes young athletes who best demonstrate that tennis is the sport of opportunity for education, advancement and character development. This year's recipients are Austen Huang of Elk Grove, Calif., and Stephanie Schrage of Millburn, N.J.

Columbia University recruit Huang (pictured above) and Princeton-bound Schrage will receive their awards in September at the USTA Semi-Annual Meeting at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City.

“Austen’s and Stephanie’s achievements on the court, in the classroom and in the community truly make them exemplary leaders among their peers,” said Kurt Kamperman, Chief Executive, Community Tennis, USTA. “They are both very deserving of this honor and have bright futures ahead of them at Ivy League schools.”

To qualify for the award, students must have an unweighted GPA of 3.75 on a 4.0 scale and be ranked in the Top 100 of the USTA Boys’ or Girls’ 18s national standings. ADVERTISEMENT A written essay, as well as leadership and sportsmanship, were also considered. Excerpts from each player’s essay can be found below.

Huang, ranked No. 16 in the USTA Boys’ 18s national standings, won the USTA National Winter Championships’ Boys’ 18s singles title in 2016 as a 16-year-old. A graduating senior studying online at Laurel Springs School, he has a 4.0 unweighted GPA, taking eight AP courses, and is an active volunteer tennis coach at a local club. He also volunteers as a piano player at a local senior center and was a sportsmanship award recipient at the USTA Pro Circuit $25,000 Men’s Futures in Little Rock, Ark.

Schrage, currently No. 27 in the USTA Girls’ 18s national standings, has been ranked as the No. 1 girl in the USTA Eastern section. Set to graduate from Milburn High School in December, she won the New Jersey state high school girls’ singles title in 2015 and helped lead Milburn to four straight state team titles. Schrage has a 3.75 unweighted GPA, with five AP courses, and is an active volunteer at Dress for Success, helping low-income clients, as well as an action research participant to help create more job opportunities for low-income workers. She also won the sportsmanship award at the USTA Girls’ 16s National Championships.

Essay Excerpts


As part of the National Junior Scholar Athlete Award’s application process, each player was asked to write a personal essay from the following prompt: In 500 words or less, please explain how you have used the lessons you have learned on the tennis court in the classroom and in your life.

Austen Huang (USTA Northern California Section):
"As a young child, easily influenced by his peers, I was often manipulated. I found myself on the brink of quitting. But in my eyes, my injury was actually a gift from God. I realized I had something more than recognition. I had found that ‘gift’ my parents saw years earlier. Recognition is merely superficial, and I was looking for something deeper than that. My toiling and dedication would pay off in the long run. I thank myself for not giving up when times were arduous. My special ‘gift’ has helped me become not only a better athlete, student and role-model in my society but has opened many new doors of opportunity. And, best of all, I'm finally getting the recognition I longed for, thanks to my ‘gift.’”

Stephanie Schrage (USTA Eastern Section)
"Within the course of a day, I sometimes feel like two different people. At school, I focus all of my mental energy on learning, taking notes and test taking. If I am taking a test on a Friday before my first-round match, zoning in on the task at hand enables me to get the best grade I can. At tennis, I can escape the difficult demands of school. If I get a bad grade on a test, I forget about it for two hours so I can put all my focus into training. Being able to separate school and tennis has been beneficial, but so has been applying the lessons I have learned in both areas to each other. From tennis, I have learned how to carry myself, deal with pressure, adjust in difficult situations and work tirelessly toward my goals. All of these qualities have influenced my outlook on how to be a good student, member of a school and member of a community."


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