Arthur Ashe NJTL Essay Contest Winners
Two First Serve students, Amanda and Quinn, won the 2019 Arthur Ashe NJTL essay contest! Of 2,750 submissions, 10 were chosen to attend Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day in NYC, and enjoy the view from the president’s box.
Congratulations, Quinn and Amanda!
Click here to read the Santa Fe New Mexican’s article.
Click here to read the Albuquerque Journal’s article.
Read their essays below.
Prompt: This year marks the 50th anniversary of NJTL. What specific impact do you hope your chapter can make in your community today that you would want remembered 50 years from now?
Cultural Diversity and 50 Years Impact
By Amanda, Grade 10
Throughout the world, cultural diversity is something that has sculpted our communities. Through First Serve, I have had the privilege to learn about multiple cultural backgrounds and stories that have given me a different perspective on cultural influences.
Santa Fe has a wide variety of cultures along with a multitude of backgrounds. Through these cultures, we can begin to understand the views of others and begin to have connections. An example of this was when I met a girl of Mexican heritage who was able to relate to me. We spoke about our views on religion. She stated that she had a difficult time explaining to her very religious parents that she was no longer Buddhist. I told her that I as well had that issue with my parents when coming out that I was no longer Catholic. We ended up bonding with our similar situations, but different cultural backgrounds. I was surprised to see how simple it was to interact with someone who I didn’t know that had some connections with me. While interacting with her, I felt as though I could understand her culture better than another person. This interaction has changed the way that I interact with others in my community. This will further influence the way that I approach new cultures along with being able to attempt to step outside of my comfort zone more with an open mind.
Having said this, I hope that 50 years later every culture, religion, ethnicity, race, gender, color, disabilities, orientations, education levels and beliefs could become unified in both First Serve and the larger Santa Fe community. I feel that by accepting these important features, the Santa Fe community as well as First Serve can become closer with each other instead of pushing each other away. I know that our community can work towards this, as well as keeping this alive through community bonding clubs, work environments, school environments and more. I imagine that I could develop an agency named Communify, which would unify these differences and accept them as one.
By Quinn, Grade 8
Fifty years from today, I’m positive my chapter, First Serve New Mexico (FSNM) will have made a meaningful and extraordinary impact on our community. First Serve teaches tennis for free to kids in Santa Fe Public Schools, as well as offer tutoring and homework support to us twice a week. Giving comprehensive tutoring lessons allows kids to achieve academic excellence. Unfortunately, the public school system in our community is substandard, and currently ranked 49th in education in the U.S., but First Serve can change that. By providing extra academic support that’s missing from our public schools, FSNM opens doors that were closed to kids in my community.
By learning life-long lessons from tennis, such as sportsmanship and perseverance, kids in FSNM are sure to become successful adults, role models, and leaders in our community in the future. When I first began playing tennis, I couldn’t understand how to hit the ball over the net accurately, or at all for that matter. But with the FSNM coaches’ help I learned so much and improved my tennis skills profoundly. This extensive and patient way of teaching is sure to develop us into great tennis players and bright students in the future.
First Serve is composed of all kinds of kids, each with various stories, backgrounds, and cultures. This shows us that anyone can play tennis and inspires kids not to feel pressured into playing a certain sport based solely on who they are. Tennis is stereotyped as traditionally being a sport played by wealthy white people, so it can feel like it’s a sport we aren’t “supposed” to play. I believe that fifty years from now, our community will be changed, and the stereotype of a conventional tennis player will be abolished. All in all, FSNM is creating meaningful experiences and teaching kids life-long lessons that will perpetually be remembered, and leave a lasting imprint on our community.