|Katherine Willette Leadership Scholarship |
In 2009, Mylan World TeamTennis started a new scholarship program to recognize Katherine Willette (pictured on the right with Billie Jean King), who has helped run the WTT Junior Nationals Tournament
in San Diego for over fifteen years. The scholarship annually awards $300 to one male and one female attendee of WTT Junior Nationals. Winners are chosen based on essays that they submit which demonstrate a variety of lessons learned, friendships made, and the impact of the coed team format on the individual player and his or her team.
Two participants from the 2012 World TeamTennis Junior Nationals Tournament were awarded the Kathy Willette Leadership Scholarships after having life-changing experiences through taking part in the tournament. Kevin Frommer (USTA Eastern Way Team), the male recipient from Montgomery, N.Y. and Akari Baba (Smashing Rebels), the female recipient from Vancouver, Wash., have been granted a scholarship award of $300 for their achievement.
Kevin Frommer, Montgomery, N.Y.
USTA Eastern Way Team
2012 Katherine Willette Leadership Scholarship Essay Winner
You will hear many successful people say that life isn’t about luck, it’s about opportunity, and that’s exactly what it was when I accepted the opportunity to go to California for the World Team Tennis Junior Nationals 2012. It was an experience that I will never forget. Going on this trip I knew almost everybody on my team, so I knew that it would be a fun experience. Of course not having been to California I didn’t know how much more fun it was going to be. The weather was always beautiful, the beach was incredible, and the wonderful view of the Pacific Ocean was like living in a dream. Getting to play tennis every day with a group of kids I enjoyed being around, I don’t think it could have gotten much better; but I was wrong, it did get better.
This team tennis trip taught me that life isn’t something that you go through alone. At many important points in your life you will be working with or as a team to accomplish whatever job you are tasked with. Accommodating teammates and working together brought us all closer together. We all knew that but if our team didn’t jell together it would’ve been extremely hard to accomplish anything. Personally I thought the coed part was great because it put both girls and boys on equal ground. Nobody was above anybody else because every person on that team made a difference in the final outcome.
I also learned that life isn’t just about being good at a good job, but it is also about who you meet along the way to help you move ahead, and leaving them with a good impression. Sometimes when you are in a match that is hard to do when you are not playing your best, but tennis teaches you how to control your emotions. Because if you don’t your game will suffer, just as you will in life. You never know who may be watching.
This event also had an impact on my life for a reason I didn’t expect. That important impact was the lunch gathering where we got to meet the Marine with no legs, and when we wrote letters to the troops. That was a really wonderful thing to do and it meant a lot to me because I felt like in some small way I was hopefully bringing some sort of happiness to a service man or woman who is risking their life for me, and for the best country in the world. My mom said this once and I will never forget it “if you can change one person’s life for the better, and I mean really make a difference, then you have lived a life worth living”. I understand that my contribution was miniscule but I know that I want to make a difference in someone’s life, and that this entire experience was one small step in getting there.
Akari Baba, Vancouver, Wash.
2012 Katherine Willette Leadership Scholarship Essay Winner
The World TeamTennis Junior Nationals in San Diego was the most exciting and most educational parts of my tennis career to date. Looking back on this exquisite opportunity, I remember many moments of happiness and thoughts of the game. One that really sticks out most is at the opening ceremony. When Billie Jean King talked to the whole group about the opportunity of being there and how tennis should be recreated into a team sport, she said, “Own your voice.” The moment I heard King say, “Own your voice,” I just thought of speaking for myself, saying what I wanted to say. As the event progressed, however, I thought more deeply about it the phrase.
I realized that “owning my voice” could be important to me and the game of tennis. In a match, pumping myself up with self-talk was a source of positivity. With a few phrases like “Come on,” “Let’s go,” or “It’s ok,” I was able to keep positive and productive. As I won for myself, I was for my team.
My team for this event was the Smashing Rebels. I did not know anyone on the team prior to the event; I had only heard some of their names in conversations. I am a bit shy, but I took King’s advice, “own your voice,” and started conversations. I quickly recognized that I got along with everyone. The matches began, and I found myself cheering for the team every second. Because every game earned mattered, every point was a step-closer for a game and team success.
We played five teams, all from different areas of the U.S., out of the sixteen teams present. Every time we played a different team, we got to know them. Making new friends was something I needed to do, so I decided to, “own my voice.” All I had to do is say, “Hi,” ask a few questions, and give honest compliments. Everyone was nice and talked back to me. By owning my voice, I made more friends that live far away, and I learned that enemies on court don’t have to be enemies off the court. A smile and my voice ensured life-long friends.
San Diego’s WTT Junior Nationals was a superior experience for me. The words of King, “Own your voice,” were the main reason why I learned immensely during the time I spent there. Those words expanded my thinking and actions towards my teammates, other team members, and myself. Now, every time I step on court, I think of the time I spent in San Diego and remember the fun, excitement, and experience it provided me in tennis and life. I talk with my teammates constantly. In fact, I talk across the U.S. on the internet with some of the friends I made at San Diego. I own my voice everywhere.