By anguillian July 27, 2012 08:12



Nzingha with parents Mr. Kenn Banks and Dr. Phyllis Fleming-Banks

Former Sixth Form student, Nzingha Banks, an Assistant at the Anguilla Tennis Academy, is the first Anguillian female to be awarded a Tennis Scholarship to pursue academic studies in the United States. She will be entering Washburn University in Kansas, Texas, where she will study for a degree in Marketing and Information Systems.


The US$30,000 a year scholarship award was announced on Tuesday, this week, at a ceremony at the Anguilla Tennis Academy by its CEO and Founder, Michelle Lake, who benefitted from a similar scholarship in earlier years.


L-R: Jill Saunders, Christine Kim (US Coaches), Nzingha Banks, Michelle Lake and Chris Wade

“The Anguilla Tennis Academy was a dream 17 years ago when I received a tennis athletic scholarship to play atGardner-WebbUniversityinNorth Carolina,” Mr. Lake said at the ceremony. “After realising the opportunities afforded to me through the sport of tennis, I thought it was necessary to start a similar programme so that I give back to other young Anguillians through the sport … It was with that vision that theAnguillaTennisAcademywas started. It was to provide the highest quality tennis instruction to Anguillian,Caribbeanand international youth in a competitive environment while encouraging exemplary sportsmanship.


Family and friends of Nzingha Banks (Photos courtesy Jemila Morson)

“Our main four goals were to make tennis athletic scholarships available for children who excel in the training programmes; to foster long-lasting friendships through our cultural exchange and outreach programmes; to promote a strong sense of community by recruiting and hiring graduates of the Anguilla Tennis Academy to return as tennis coaches; and to establish professional relationships with other local and international tennis programmes.”


Mr. Lake said that when Nzingha Banks began playing tennis at age 6, it became an integral part of her life and she spent more than ten years at theAnguillaTennisAcademy. “Upon graduating from Sixth Form in 2011, she worked at ATA as a Tennis Coach,” he continued. “Her growth, both personally and academically, has been exceptional. She is quite a role model for many of our young children in the after-school programme. She has given back so much to theAnguillaTennisAcademyin her short time employed with us. Her dedication to practice – five hours per day, six days per week, in our training programmes – has now paid off.


“Nzingha’s dream of going to university and playing college tennis has been realised. She has been awarded a full scholarship (tennis and academic) toWashburnUniversityinKansasthis fall. Congratulations to Nzingha, her parents (Kenn Banks and Dr. Phyllis Fleming-Banks) and her extended family – for without your support this could not happen.”


Overcome by emotion,Mitch Lake wept. But he managed to thank all the local andUScoaches and sponsors for their support over the years.


Other speakers wereUScoaches Chris Wade (who served in Anguilla for several years), Jill Saunders and Christine Kim. They all expressed pleasure in assisting with the training programme of the Anguilla Tennis Academy, and joined in commending Miss Banks for her outstanding performance as a tennis player, coach and scholarship winner.


Replying, Nzingha, struggling to hold back her tears, said in part: “Speaking about answered prayers, I am truly grateful for supporting parents, family, friends and coaches for a long ten months [at the Anguilla Tennis Academy]. I will cherish every moment of it. Truly, hard work pays off both on and off the court especially in the classroom. The ATA has opened the doors for me…It is going to be great to see who will be next. Thanks to all for your support.”

By anguillian July 27, 2012 08:12


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