The school year will start off with a bang for Jada Robinson, a fourth-grader at Genesis Promise Academy in Kansas City. The United States Tennis Association announced today that Jada, 9, has won the prestigious, nationwide Arthur Ashe Essay Contest presented annually by USTA.
In late August, she and her mother will fly to New York to accept this award and enjoy a whirlwind weekend that includes dining with former Mayor David Dinkins, attending a Broadway play, going to a Mets baseball game, and being mentored by a NCAA Division 1 tennis player. Jada also will play tennis at the National Tennis Center, where the U.S. Open is held, and have lunch in the prestigious President’s Box.
“I’ve never been on an airplane,” said Jada, who lives with her mother, four sisters and a brother near Genesis, a charter school for at-risk youth at 3800 E. 44th St., Kansas City, Missouri.
“And I’ve never been to New York,” Jada said. “I’m going to take a camera and just take pictures everywhere I go. And my tennis racquet too.”
Just a year ago, Jada had never even heard of the tennis legend Arthur Ashe, let alone played on a tennis court herself. But thanks to a unique tennis program at Genesis through USTA called the National Junior Tennis and Learning program, Jada not only learned about Ashe and wrote an award-winning essay, but she also joined the school’s first tennis team.
Now she dreams of being a professional tennis player herself, just like Ashe.
“My mom and I read lots of books about Arthur Ashe when we go to the library,” Jada said. “And I learned a lot about him at school. He helped little kids like me play tennis.”
USTA announced 10 winners (a boy and girl from 5 age categories) of the 15th annual Arthur Ashe Essay Contest. The winners, ranging in ages from 9 to 18, were selected out of 1,800 entries submitted earlier this month.
Each winner will receive a New York City travel package from August 23- 25. To enter the contest, children were asked to write an essay of 350 words or less, responding to a specific question around Ashe and his accomplishments. This year’s question was: “If you could follow in Arthur Ashe’s footsteps and ‘give back’ to tennis, what would you do to give back to the game and how would it impact others?”
Jada wrote, “Tennis is my favorite sport and I will work just as hard as Arthur Ashe and train great tennis players. The coaches would teach the youth never to back down and never give up on your dream of becoming a great tennis pro.”
Kurt Kamperman, USTA Chief Executive of Community Tennis, said the essay contest provides an opportunity for NJTL students to showcase their talents through written expression.
“This year’s essay question should generate some thoughtful responses in reflecting on the principles that Arthur stood for,” he said. “In its 15th year, the essay contest continues to honor talented students who aspire to follow in his footsteps.”