|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 $500 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 2015 World TeamTennis Junior Nationals Tournament were awarded the Kathy Willette Leadership Scholarship after writing about a life-changing experience from taking part in the tournament. Chloe Weihs (Southwest - Hot Tamales) and Emmett Moore (Pacific Northwest - Balls of Fury) have been granted a scholarship award of $300 for their achievements.
2015 Katherine Willette Leadership Scholarship Essay Winners
Chloe Weihs (Southwest - Hot Tamales) and Emmett Moore (Pacific Northwest - Balls of Fury)
World Team Tennis was one of the best experiences I have had in tennis. This was my second year of playing this event and it has been a great honor to be selected for this team competition. Not only did I meet Billie Jean King but I also had the opportunity to speak with her personally. Her words and this event really taught me that tennis can be a team event where friendships and camaraderie are important, that one should always do their best, and that a ranking does not define the person.
‘You are not your ranking’ was the most prominent lesson that I learned. Ms. King emphasized the importance knowing that tennis is a game which is meant to be exciting and fun and an opportunity to meet people who have similar interests and enjoy being active. The atmosphere of WTT is centered in positive energy and excitement. Billie’s message and the atmosphere she creates in WTT is one that I try to remind myself of and recreate. Competition can become stressful and sometimes contentious. I play tennis because I love the game and I want to continue to play. It’s great to be competitive and to win matches, but a ranking cannot describe how hard anyone works, the skills we have, and the relationships we build while on the court. I am not a number, but rather a tennis enthusiast. My character is defined by my actions on and off the court and WTT is an event that demonstrates the important reasons we all play tennis.
World Team Tennis brings together players and builds a team. This team environment encourages us to support each other to do our best and to play freely without the stress. This year, I was recovering from injury and not at the top of my game physically, but I had 5 teammates who cheered me through my matches and supported me. As a team, we recognized good shots and great points from everyone on the court. I wanted to do well not just for myself, and, more importantly, for my teammates.
My teammates have become my friends who I will continue to play with and be friends. I will forever have the friendship and bonds that were made with my teammates in San Diego. This recent year, especially, I made one friend that I communicate with daily. We have become regular doubles partners and great friends. We have supported each other through tough loses and great wins. The rest of my teammates from both this year and last year still are still close and we always have kind words and friendly smiles for one another.
As I end my Junior Tennis Career and look to college next year, I will most definitely remember the lessons I learned and the experiences I had at WTT. I will always play tennis and will always look for opportunities like WTT to play the game that I love.
When my mom first told me about WTT Junior Nationals, I was a little nervous; just the name sounded intimidating. But I was looking for a challenge so I eagerly accepted, unaware how different the experience would be from typical tournaments. I didn’t know my teammates very well at all as we all live in different parts of the northwest, but the bonding started with the first practice and continued into that first night watching the San Diego Aviators play the Austin Aces. The air was electric with excitement and the team spirit of the WTT pro players really set the stage for what was to come.
The next day, through the first few matches, I was treating it like a normal tournament: I was only focused on myself. But by the end of the day I began to feel the camaraderie of the team. Our team was playing Midwest, and I was playing the last singles match and it was really close. It was 4-4 and my entire team was behind me cheering. I ended up losing the match 6-4 but no one on my team was upset, including me. The kids I normally compete against were now my teammates! So I began to cheer louder, help my teammates more, and play for a team, rather than an individual, win. Tennis has been kind of a lonely sport all these years, and the WTT experience gave us all a chance to be part of a really fun team. I learned that I really like being on a team, and the WTT tournament has motivated me to play college tennis, where I can be part of a team.
Another unusual aspect was the coed nature of the team. So often in junior tournaments the gender division serves as a social barrier between boys and girls. This new “coed-ness” provided another dimension of support; now I was not only cheering for players I usually play against, I was cheering for players I rarely talk to or even see! I got to know the girls on my team very well and now seeing them at tournaments is like seeing old friends.
All of this fun and camaraderie extended beyond our PNW team. The night before our last match against Intermountain, we were all hanging out at the pool, and guess what team comes down? Intermountain. At first it was kind of awkward, but they started talking and we started talking and soon we were all great friends. We were aware that we were playing each other tomorrow, but it didn’t matter, as friendship and fun became just as important as winning.
WTT Junior Nationals was a fantastic experience I will never forget. I can’t thank my team and coaches enough for this wonderful opportunity to be part of a team and compete with some of the best players in the country. I hope I can make the team again next year, and look forward to more fun, teamwork and friendships.