NJTL 50 for 50:
Craig Ellenport | July 3, 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.
In this installment, we catch up with Christina Washington, an alumnus of the Northside Sports Group in Norfolk, Va. Washington currently plays tennis for Virginia State University and hopes to run an NJTL of her own one day.
The Christina Washington File
Name: Christina Washington
NJTL Chapter: Northside Sports Group (Norfolk, Va.)
Role with NJTL: former participant
Year became active in NJTL: 2010
When did you first become involved with NJTL, and how long were you involved?
Christina Washington: I first became involved with NJTL when I joined the Northside Sports Group chapter in Norfolk, Va., when I was 12 years old. ADVERTISEMENT I was involved with Northside all through middle school and high school. I would play practice matches and train with Coach Bill Jaume. I would go to tournaments and help Coach Bill with the numerous tournaments he put on at Northside Park. I would volunteer and help teach classes at Northside Park with him, as well.
Did you have any idea about who Arthur Ashe was when you went to your first clinic?
Christina Washington: No, I didn't know who Arthur Ashe was when I first started NJTL. However, I came to know who he was very soon. The way I learned about Arthur Ashe was because of the older people I would play with at Northside Park. I would have to look up and research historic tennis players they would tell me about. The next time I saw them, which was not that long after, I would have to be able to tell them some facts. Arthur Ashe was one of these people. Although at the time it was annoying to me as a little kid who just wanted to play around, I really appreciate what they did.
What was the greatest lesson you learned from NJTL?
Christina Washington: The greatest lesson I learned from NJTL was to always give back. Pass along what you have learned to others. Lastly, always be humble.
How has NJTL impacted your life today? What are you doing? Work? School?
Christina Washington: NJTL has helped me in so many ways. I was able to get on my first airplane ride to Sonoma, Calif., when I was only 14 years old. Right now, I'm a senior at Virginia State University, and I play on the women's tennis team. I'm majoring in manufacturing engineering. I plan on going to Virginia Tech to get my master's in industrial systems engineering through the pipeline program Virginia State University has.
Also, I have started my own 501c3 nonprofit called Sweet Spot Sports and Education Group Inc., which exposes young people to sports for personal growth and provides them with educational programs to help them succeed in life. If it was not for my experiences in tennis, I would not have been led to start this nonprofit and help other kids who were like myself. NJTL has pushed me to help others. Furthermore, without the USTA Foundation scholarship, I would not have been able to have a debt-free education.
Are you still involved with NJTL? What are your favorite activities both on-court and off?
Christina Washington: No. Once I went off to college I was not as involved with NJTL anymore. However, I would like to start a chapter of my own very soon.
On the court, I love to work with kids, and I like to play King of the Court. It’s such a competitive yet fun game. Off the court, I like to record and edit YouTube videos, take pictures, travel and eat seafood.