NJTL 50 for 50:
McCarton Ackerman | August 19, 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 current NJTL participant Flex Howard, who won the sportsmanship award during the AmEx Excellence Cup at last year’s US Open.
The Flex Howard File
Name: Flex Howard
NJTL Chapter: South Atlanta Community Tennis Association
Role with NJTL: Current participant and Excellence Team participant
Year became active in NJTL: 2012
How did you first become involved with NJTL?
Flex Howard: I got started in the NJTL when I saw Coach Sam [Kennedy] teaching kids at Sykes Park. ADVERTISEMENT I used to ride my skateboard on the tennis court, but then once he started coaching kids, I couldn’t skate on it as much. [Laughs]. When I was eight years old, he called me to the fence one day and asked if I wanted to play, but I told him I wasn’t interested. He asked me again the next morning at the park and I said yes, so I picked up a racquet and started then.
How has being in an NJTL program benefitted you?
Flex Howard: The NJTL provided free education, so it’s benefitted my grades. I’ve been getting straight A’s and my reading level has improved.
What did it mean to you to win the sportsmanship award last year at the AmEx Excellence Cup, especially while being at the site of the US Open?
Flex Howard: Winning the sportsmanship award meant everything to me. Ever since I won that award, I’ve had kids come up to me and say they look up to me. It was a great experience being at the US Open as well because it’s one of the biggest tournaments in the world.
What are some of your goals for the future?
Flex Howard: My main goals are getting a college scholarship and playing college tennis at a Division I school.