Teenager Li benefiting from Jimmy Evert Memorial Scholarship

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December 4, 2017 02:08 PM

By Ashley Marshall and Karen Ford, USTAFoundation.com

With the help of the USTA Foundation and a new scholarship honoring one of tennis' longtime coaches, the 2017 season turned out to be a banner year for rising American Ann Li.

The teenager was a finalist in the girls’ juniors competition at Wimbledon in July and she won her first ITF Pro Circuit title at a $15,000 tournament in Evansville, Ind.

The 17-year-old also reached five ITF juniors singles quarterfinals, advanced to the doubles final of the prestigious Easter Bowl with fellow American Taylor Johnson and committed to attend Louisiana State University next fall.

The high school senior was one of five players to receive an award as part of the Jimmy Evert Memorial Scholarship, established to honor the legacy of longtime coach Jimmy Evert – the father of Grand Slam women’s champion Chris Evert – who passed away in 2015.

The scholarships award up to $10,000 that can be put toward private coaching and tuition, tournament fees and travel. It also provides two weeks of free coaching at the Evert Academy while pairing players with mentors to help them get into the top colleges of their choice.

“The scholarship has really helped me with advanced training and to cover the expenses of traveling to workouts and competitive tournaments,” Li said. “I’ve also had a great experience attending the Evert Academy and working on my game.

“I want to thank John, Chrissie and the Evert family for supporting my efforts and aspirations. The scholarship has allowed me to travel and train around the world. The Evert Academy is a great place to train and develop. Please keep supporting young players.”

Li began playing tennis at 5 years old when she tagged along to her older brothers’ tennis lessons in Philadelphia. She said she was hooked from that first introduction and has grown to love the game through meeting new people, making new friends and the journey of learning and improving as she competes across the world.

Li started playing tennis at the Legacy Tennis and Learning program in Philadelphia under the guidance of coaches Jon Glover and Lance Lee. They have seen the teenager grow over the years and remain in close contact with Li, who plans to play USTA Pro Circuit events in Daytona Beach and Orlando, Fla., and Midland, Mich., in January.

“There was something about Annie that definitely stuck out,” said Glover, who met Li when he took a job as director of player development at Legacy and started running the high performance classes at its Future Stars program. “She took the information that was given and she put it into her game right away. She learned quickly and she was very attentive. She stuck out from all the other players, and you could tell she was driven and motivated.”

Glover worked again with Li when she began training with the USTA at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York when she was 14 years old. He took a coaching position with the USTA in April 2016, first splitting time between Boca Raton, Fla., and Philadelphia before moving to the USTA National Campus in Orlando full time last August. Through it all, he has remained a mentor to Li despite not being involved in her day-to-day training.

Li remains grateful for the start Glover and Legacy Youth Tennis and Education program afforded her.

“They helped me establish a strong foundation [and] base to my game. It’s a great program for younger kids to learn and excel,” Li said of Legacy. “Success for me is trying my best both on and off the court.  Making sure that I put my all into everything I do and getting accomplishing something in return.”

Glover said Li continues to put everything into her game on a daily basis, and he applauds the impact the Jimmy Evert Memorial Scholarship has had on her growth.

“The summer before Wimbledon, she won the 18s clay court [tournament] and a big part of that was the training she received at the John Evert Academy,” Glover said. “That was the first big tournament Annie won.

“I know how expensive tennis is as a sport [for aspiring pros], so the funding has helped her play the same schedule as her peers. But it’s not just the money. Annie had the opportunity to train with pro players from 16 years old. She had never been in that environment, hitting with a Shelby Rogers or other players at the academy. The opportunity she had was a big boost when she needed it the most.

“Annie is one of the best people I have been able to work with and it’s rewarding to see somebody like that do well on and off the court. I would never put a limit of what Annie can do with her tennis.” 

 

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