Local Tennis Player Wins National Contest

ThomasCongratulations to Rodney Street Tennis and Tutoring Association’s Thomas Lam, who was recently chosen as a winner of the 15th annual Arthur Ashe Essay contest, honoring the former #2 ranked player in the world and the only African-American male to win singles titles at Wimbledon, the US Open and the Australian Open. Ten national contest winners were chosen based on their responses to the following question:

“If you could follow in Arthur Ashe’s footsteps and ‘give back’ to tennis, what would you do to give back to the game, and how would it impact others?”

Thomas’s response appears below:

“Albert Einstein once said, “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” Arthur Ashe truly epitomized this quote by devotion to many causes such as the National Junior Tennis & Learning. He also broke racial barriers in tennis, becoming the first African American to play on the US tennis team and raising awareness against apartheid. He spent his life giving to others, which is a cause worth admiring.

That is why I want to give back to tennis in my own way.

If I could ever be like Arthur Ashe and give back to tennis, I would definitely want to make it a game that more people can enjoy. I often see that people need to buy baskets of tennis balls and expensive rackets. Whenever I play tennis in tournaments, I am usually demolished by other kids who spend lots of time at country clubs and tennis lessons, both of which cost a considerable amount.

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Thomas (front) with RSTTA members and broadcaster/retired pro player Justin Gimelstob

Currently, I see some camps and clinics that are economically practical for beginners. However, these low-cost camps can only improve a player’s skill so much. Advanced players may need a professional coach to point out their mistakes and help them greatly improve. Most people cannot afford private tennis lessons, though. If I had the resources, I would pay for professional coaches for talented players who do not have the capital resources to afford them. That way, players who are not as privileged would have a chance to play as well as those who can afford more training.

I would like to level the playing field for those who cannot afford the resources that others can.

I feel that many tennis players could benefit by this. Dedicated athletes can definitely spend time practicing, but they cannot teach themselves how to be better. If any tennis player can get the coaching they need, then great potential can appear in anybody.

I want tennis to be a game that anybody can be good at, no matter where they come from. That is what I would want my impact on tennis to be.”

For his essay, Thomas won a trip to New York, where he will be a special guest for the Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day at the upcoming US Open. Congratulations!

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