Tennis is a popular and fun pastime, in that it requires mental focus and athletic ability. But due to the cost of equipment and court time, lots of kids never get the chance to try their hand at the sport. Leaders of the Junior Tennis Champion Center (JTCC) recognized this cost challenge, and decided to do something to change it. In 2009, JTCC launched a Community Outreach initiative, with the goal of introducing underserved kids in Prince George’s County, MD, and Washington, DC to tennis. And the program has become an indisputable success.
For anyone unfamiliar with JTCC, it’s a program based on a mentoring model: JTCC recruits high-performing student-athletes in their early teens to become role models for pre-teen youth in their communities. To date, the program has reached more than 2,800 kids—amazing!
One of these teens is Robin Montgomery, whose story illustrates how important JTCC can be in a young person’s life. Robin was just 5 years old when her mother brought her to start training at JTCC. Thanks to JTCC’s emphasis on making tennis accessible to all, Robin was granted a scholarship. Today, Robin is 13 and a worldwide tennis star.
Robin’s list of accomplishments and awards is incredible, especially given her young age! Just to name a few: Robin achieved a #1 ranking in her USTA section, and #30 in the nation; in August 2016, she made her international debut at Coupe Le Blanc in Montreal, Canada, where she helped Team USA reach the top step of the podium; and in the summer of 2017, Robin won her first national title at the USTA National Girls’ 14 Doubles Clay Court Championship.
In addition to her star qualities on the court, Robin has distinguished herself off-court as well. Recently, the young athlete won a prize in the USTA Foundation’s prestigious National Junior Tennis and Learning Essay Contest.
“Not only does JTCC focus on tennis and the competitive aspect of it, but its life-long lessons: problem-solving, excellent character, sportsmanship. It’s a positive part of your life,” says Robin’s mom Gabby.
Most recently, Robin lived up to the off-court lessons of the JTCC through her involvement in establishing a community outreach site at Hope Community Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. She takes seriously the emphasis that JTCC puts on student-athletes becoming role models for kids in their communities. And she has been recognized for it: Robin received the 2017 FILA REACH (Realizing Extraordinary Accomplishments with Courage and Humility) Award.
Thanks in part to the JTCC and its unique program, Robin has achieved an incredible amount in just 13 years. “JTCC will always have a special place in my heart,” she says with a smile.