Skip Navigation
Presented by
Presented by

Althea's legacy lives on among youngsters

USTA Foundation 2016 NJTL Arthur Ashe essay contest winners during Arthur Ashe Kids Day at the 2016 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.

The legacy of tennis icon Althea Gibson lives on among talented young players.

A group of 10 youngsters were chosen from a pool of more than 2,800 entrants after being asked to pen an essay about how lessons learned on the tennis court can help development and character off it.

The Arthur Ashe Essay Contest was open to students 18 and younger who participate in National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) programs across the country.

This year’s essay contest focused on tennis legend and pioneer Althea Gibson and her ability to show unwavering strength and courage in the face of adversity. That enabled her to become a trailblazer in the tennis world as the first African-American Grand Slam and U.S. Championships winner. This year’s question asked: “How have your skills in tennis impacted the development of your character and how you address your personal challenges on and off the court?”

The winners will be honored at the Yale Club in New York City and invited to Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day, where they’ll receive the VIP status in the President’s Box.

The weekend will wrap up with an awards luncheon on Sunday, Aug. 28, hosted by USTA Foundation chairman and former world No. 4 James Blake and former New York City mayor and USTA board member David Dinkins. The luncheon will be held at the Yale Club, where the essay contest winners will receive an honorary plaque.

This marks the 18th annual contest hosted by the USTA Foundation, the national charitable organization of the United States Tennis Association. 

"This year’s Arthur Ashe Essay contest winners consist of a talented group of students from some of our most outstanding NJTL programs,” said Dan Faber, USTA Foundation executive director. “We expanded the focus of our essay question and challenged the students to reflect on the great achievements of Althea Gibson. This year’s responses were some of the most phenomenal ones we’ve read as they truly highlighted their individual experiences and personal strengths as a result of the positive impact tennis has had on their lives. We are proud of their hard work.”

In January 2014, the USTA Foundation combined with USTA NJTL, a national network of 500 community-based tennis and education programs serving more than 225,000 youth, to become a fully operational foundation. NJTL has impacted millions of kids throughout the country over the past 47years, making it the largest grass-roots tennis program in the United States.

The 10 winners of the 2016 NJTL Arthur Ashe Essay Contest were selected in the following categories:

Boys/Girls 10 and under
Emeric Sery, 10, Washington, D.C. (Washington Tennis and Education Foundation)
Wiltchenie Cadet, 10, Lake Worth, Fla. (Delray Beach Youth Tennis Foundation)

Boys/Girls 11-12
Edderek Cole, 11, Jackson, Miss. (Jackson Community Tennis Project)
Ashley Marin Factor, 11, Portland, Ore. (Portland Tennis and Education)

Boys/Girls13-14
Miles Ponds, 13, Washington, D.C. (Metropolitan Tennis and Education Group)
Sophia Schutte, 14, Thomaston, N.Y. (New York Junior Tennis and Learning)

Boys/Girls 15-16
Mukasa Ricketts, 16, Dallas (Dallas Tennis Association)
Catherine Thomas, 16, Houston (Houston Tennis Association)

Boys/Girls 17-18
Charles Taylor, 17, Park City, Kan. (McAdams Community Tennis Foundation)
Chloe Henderson, 18, Las Vegas (Marty Hennessy Inspiring Children Foundation)