| By New York Tennis Magazine Staff

USTA Foundation, the national charitable organization of the United States Tennis Association (USTA), recently honored the 10 winners of the 18th Annual NJTL Arthur Ashe Essay Contest at the Yale Club in New York City. Fourteen-year-old Sophia Schutte of Thomaston, N.Y. was one of the 10 winners. The winners, ranging in ages from 10-18, were selected out of more than 2,800 entries submitted this summer. 

Schutte, a ninth grader at Great Neck South High School, is a member of the NYJTL Tournament Team at the Cary Leeds Center in the Bronx, N.Y. Her hobbies and interests include gardening, hiking, playing golf and creative writing. She hopes to play tennis in college and pursue a degree in science.

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.

To enter the contest, students were asked to write an essay of 350 words or less answering the question: “How have your skills in tennis impacted the development of your character and how you address your personal challenges on and off the court?”

"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.”

Each winner received round-trip airfare to New York City for himself/herself and a parent/legal guardian plus a two-night stay at the Grand Hyatt 42nd Street and VIP status in the President’s Box during the 2016 Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day presented by Hess.

The weekend wrapped up with an awards luncheon, hosted by USTA Foundation chairman and former world number four James Blake and former New York City Mayor and USTA Board Member David Dinkins.