By Suzanne Dent, Net News Editor
Four college freshmen are enjoying their first semesters with a little peace of mind thanks to The ALTA Foundation and a new scholarship fund endowed by a former ALTA chairman. Each student was awarded $5,000 through the newly created L. Keith Wood Scholarship.
“His passions were many,” ATLA Foundation President Lynn Lee wrote of Wood in announcing the scholarship last fall, “but no passion was greater than that for the game of tennis.” Wood served ALTA in many volunteer capacities, starting as a team captain and ending as chairman of the board in 2012.
Application was open to any high school senior who had been a member of ALTA for at least one year. Four outstanding applicants were identified by The ALTA Foundation committee that chose the recipients. They are:
• Madeleine Elizabeth Dreesman, a graduate of Centennial High School, who is attending the University of Georgia,
• Meghan Nicole Peel, a graduate of Peachtree Ridge High School, who is attending Duke University,
• Katie Michele Tarbell, a graduate of Kell High School, who is attending Georgia Institute of Technology, and
• Jeremy Yang Yuan, a graduate of Northview High School, who is attending the University of Chicago.
Each recipient played on Junior ALTA teams; Yuan also played on the Junior Challenge Ladder.
“Any sport is good for teaching dedication and teamwork,” said Peel, who played on Junior ATLA teams from 2009 to last spring. “With tennis, you have to respect the game and yourself, especially in singles. You have to know you can do it.”
Peel says she recognized early that she was more privileged than many. She enjoys participating in a variety of sports, and she wanted to help others enjoy them as well. So, she started her own charity called Love Means Something, which benefits underprivileged children who want to learn tennis.
“I did some research and found AYTEF (Atlanta Youth Tennis & Education Foundation). I got my school team on board and contacted my neighborhood club team.”
She was thrilled to receive an overwhelming amount of donations for AYTEF, whose mission is to promote the physical and mental development of underserved youth through tennis and education.
Peel, who has enjoyed the thrill of competing in City Finals a couple of times, said she will study biomedical engineering at Duke because the discipline will offer her career options in science, engineering or medicine.
Dreesman is also a champion for a cause. After beating cancer as a 10-year-old, Dreesman and her family put their energies toward using tennis to help CURE.
“It’s an organization that raises money for childhood cancer research,” she said. The family has worked with others at their Horseshoe Bend Country Club to hold tennis tournaments that raised about $10,000 for the charity. Now cancer-free, Dreesman is enjoying life and looking forward to sorority rush at UGA, where she will study physics with the hope of going to medical school.
Yuan has the same dream of medical school and plans to study chemistry at the University of Chicago. You may have seen Yuan’s name in Net News before. He played on Junior ALTA teams for a couple of seasons, but switched to the Junior Challenge Ladder in 2013 for more intense play.
“In between tournaments, I can get more competition time on the court.”
He completed last year’s season at the top of the ladder. Now it’s on to Chicago and the university’s college team.
Tarbell will stay closer to home as she studies industrial engineering at Georgia Tech. That will allow her to play in ALTA’s adult leagues. She and her father played Mixed Doubles this summer and went 5-0. Now she’s signed up for a Sunday Women’s team this fall. In addition to playing tennis, Tarbell enjoys volunteering with Special Pops and the Special Olympics. Though special education is not her intended mamor, “I will continue to volunteer helping special needs children. I love it.”
Tennis and using it to help others was Wood’s goal in endowing the scholarship.
“[Wood’s] love for ALTA was demonstrated in the endowment he left with a desire for it to benefit college-bound ALTA Juniors,” Foundation President Lee said. “We hope we honor this wonderful man for at least the next five years with these scholarships.”