NJTL 50 for 50:
Erin Maher | June 11, 2019
As the USTA Foundation celebrates the 50th anniversary of the National Junior Tennis & Learning network, USTA.com looks at 50 NJTL leaders and alumni who helped shape this incredible community dedicated to helping youth strive for academic and athletic excellence on the tennis court, in the classroom and in life.
The Andrea Morales-Mendoza File
Name: Andrea Morales-Mendoza
NJTL Chapter: Youth Tennis Advantage, San Francisco, Calif.
Role with NJTL: Current participant
Age became active in NJTL: 10
USTA.com: How did you first get involved with NJTL?
Andrea Morales-Mendzoa: Well, I’m part of the nonprofit called Youth Tennis Advantage. ADVERTISEMENT I got started because my mom knew a woman who worked at this nonprofit. She told my mom about it, and my mom decided to take me and my older sister to their sites at Berkley. youth tenAnd basically the program is about teaching inner-city children tennis, and also helping them with homework and teaching them life skills. So that’s how I started off in the NJTL.
USTA.com: Before you started participating with the NJTL, did you play tennis?
Andrea Morales-Mendoza: No, I had no idea what it was, so this was my first contact with any sort of tennis.
USTA.com: How was your first time playing tennis?
Andrea Morales-Mendoza: It was tough, because I didn’t really know the game. The other participants did. I really enjoyed it because I had a lot of support. Coming from the classroom I found that on the tennis court.
USTA.com: You’re 16-years-old now, and you started playing when you were age 10. What made you stick with it?
Andrea Morales-Mendoza: I really do just love the sport, so I’ve just been playing a lot. I started playing tournaments, and I just really appreciate all the people I’ve been able to work with in the program.
USTA.com: What has been your favorite aspect about being a part of the NJTL?
Andrea Morales-Mendoza: So what I really liked about this particular program is that they have multiple locations. They have some in San Francisco, two in Oakland and one in Berkley. I love going to our events. They host events where all the kids get to go and meet each other, and we get to learn about each other and their experiences. It ranges from ages 10 – 18, so I really like that part.
USTA.com: What do you think is the greatest lesson you’ve learned from NJTL?
Andrea Morales-Mendoza: There’s just so many. I’m thinking probably that the greatest lesson I’ve learned is to always be prepared. They’ve been helping me prepare. Well I started the program in elementary school, so they’ve helped me prepare for middle school, and now I’m in high school, they helped me with that. And now they’ve helped me prepare for college and how to financially prepare for that.
USTA.com: Do you think you’ll play tennis in college?
Andrea Morales-Mendoza: That’s honestly the dream. I’m working really hard right now. I’m playing a lot more tournaments so I can hopefully get a higher UTR than I have now.
USTA.com: Last year you were one of the 10 winner’s for the USTA Foundation essay contest, where you received an all-expense paid trip to New York City and attended the 2018 US Open. How was that experience?
Andrea Morales-Mendoza: It was super fun. They [the USTA Foundation] flew me and my mom. I was really happy because I was able to share the experience with her. Basically we arrived, and they set up a hotel room for all of the winners and their guardians. We went to a Broadway show, Aladdin, which was so beautiful. We also went to the US Open Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day. My favorite part was I got to see Alex Zverev, Serena [Williams], Venus [Williams] and Andy Murray on the practice courts. My other favorite moment was when I was able to meet Mayor Dinkins and Jeanne Ashe. Yea, I loved it.