Jada Robinson is fast. She is usually one of the first to finish the sprints among the boys and girls on her tennis team.
And she’s a quick learner. She picked up tennis over the last year and a half, and at age 9, appears to be a rising star on her Genesis Promise Academy team.
Her momentum continues with a recent scholarly achievement that brings her enthusiasm, athleticism and academics all together. She recently became one of only a few nationwide to win the United States Tennis Association’s Arthur Ashe essay contest. She and her mother flew to New York City in late August for a weekend to accept the award.
Jada was among the youngest of winners, who ranged in age from 9 to 18. There were 1,800 entries.
For the essay, students were asked to write about following in the footsteps of tennis legend Arthur Ashe and give back to tennis.
Jada, who wants to be a professional tennis player when she is older, suggested establishing a fundraiser to help kids buy equipment and clothes. She also encouraged a “healthy eating” program for youth and to learn through the sport.
“Teaching the youth how to have good sportsmanship and learning how to lose without getting upset takes time,” she wrote. “I would make sure my coaches taught leadership skills and how to work together as a team.”
Jada’s favorite part of the New York trip was meeting First Lady Michelle Obama, who asked about her essay.
The fourth-grader read books about Ashe and tennis to prepare for crafting the essay.
“It took me a long time,” she said.
She likes tennis because it is fast-paced, she said.
Robert Harrison, who is tennis coordinator for Genesis, sees something special in Jada.
“She is one of the fastest on the court, boys or girls,” he said. “And she has a great attitude.”
Jada’s determination puts her first during sprinting drills, despite being younger than other teammates. She first picked up a racquet in January 2012, but is becoming more comfortable and catching up to her peers who started in preschool, he said.
“She can’t get enough tennis, and I wish I had more time with her to get her more exposure,” said Harrison, who has been coaching for 30 years.
Genesis is a charter school that uses tennis as a focus for many of its high-risk students. School athletes travel around the metro area playing at country clubs and recreation centers in Kansas.
“It’s a sport that brings them out of their shell,” said development director Ann Spivak. “They can do it for themselves and it has done amazing things for our kids and now it has done something for Jada.”
Although students have entered the contest in the past, Jada is the school’s first winner.