Nicholas Schultz of the Junior Tennis Champions Center received a medal for his winning composition (see below) in the Mid-Atlantic 10 and Under category for the annual Arthur Ashe essay contest.
Arthur Ashe changed tennis throughout his life’s achievements and dedication to the sport he loved, cared for and enjoyed. Whether it was he breaking the color barrier to be the first (and still the only) African-American male player to win the US Open, Wimbledon and the Australian Open, supporting the founding of the ATP world tour or co-founding the National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) network; his legacy of leadership and insightful vision to spread tennis and its life benefits to all children are enduring hallmarks of an exceptional life.
If I were lucky enough to be able to have an impact on people’s lives to even a fraction that Arthur Ashe had, here is what I would do to make a difference to the game of tennis and give back to the public.
I would coordinate with the USTA, ATP, WTA and ITF to give the homeless and the working poor of the United States of America (USA), and perhaps even globally, an opportunity to ‘break-the-cycle’ by offering them a supporting role in a tennis tournament. The individual would be cared for ahead of the tournament, introduced to key figures and provided a mentor that will chaperon and guide them throughout the tournament. The USTA would perform community outreach, using the NJTL Chapter network as a natural extension of itself, to identify candidates and assist in the preparations for their tournament roles.
Once the candidate successfully completes their tournament duty, they would ideally be offered an entry-level position with “a” or “the” company sponsoring the tournament they worked. The tennis brand and the corporate sponsor’s brand are enhanced through this effort because they are giving back to the community. The result is raised awareness and attracting more people to our wonderful sport. The company finds hard-to-find labor and the candidate is positively impacted. If the candidate is somehow affiliated with the NJTL already, through their children, then all the better as the children would benefit, too.