Tennis player honors coach with award winning essay

Junior Fartun Hassan wrote an award winning essay about her coach and mentor Tom Miller, to thank him for all he has done for her.

A couple months ago Hassan was given the opportunity to participate in a writing contest sponsored by the Arthur Ashe Foundation. According to the United States Tennis Association Arthur Ashe is an African-American male who broke down many doors by winning the Grand Slam tournament in 1968.

The Arthur Ashe Foundation hosts an annual essay contest, giving national winners the opportunity to fly to New York and attend Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day. The finalists get the chance to attend a professional sporting event, see a Broadway show, and receive a special award at a luncheon held in their honor.

The contestants were supposed to write a story in 300 words or less about a local tennis hero, and how that person represents the Arthur Ashe legacy. Hassan chose to write her piece about her coach Tom Miller.  Her essay made it all the way to sectionals, where she won first place. As the winner she was given a golden plaque.

Tom Miller gave Hassan the opportunity to be involved in many tennis programs, while also making time to be there for her and her family. “Tom is a great person, he really is. He cares a lot,” she said. While being there for her as a mentor he also had time to help her with her underhand swing. As a way to show appreciation for all of the things he had done for her, she wrote her essay.

Tom Miller has been Hassan’s coach for four years. They’ve known each other since eighth grade, when Hassan was given the opportunity to go to a tennis camp through the Beacon program.  When she meet Tom for the first time she said “he had on the biggest smile.” She enjoyed her time at the tennis camp thoroughly, and more importantly, her time with Tom. She also came to the realization that she loved the sport, and wanted to continue playing.

When Hassan transitioned to high school, she decided to take a break from tennis and focus on her education. “I didn’t want to join my freshman year, because I felt like that would be a bit overwhelming.” During her sophomore year Hassan felt that she was comfortable enough to finally take up tennis again. She tried out for the tennis team and got on to varsity. She plans on staying on the team till she graduates.

Unfortunately, Hassan’s essay didn’t score high enough to make it to the national competition, but she’s happy for everyone who did make it. “I’m just excited to have won a plaque,” she laughed.