Oct. 12, 2012
PHILADELPHIA (10/11/2012) - Temple freshman women's tennis player Jasmine Merali (Bryn Mawr, Pa./Radnor) has been nominated for the National Bill Talbert Junior Sportsmanship Award, which is presented annually in July at the International Tennis Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremonies in Newport, R.I. Merali's nomination comes from the United States Tennis Association Middle States Section.
To be eligible for the award, a player must be a junior player (under 18 years of age) who exemplifies the finest qualities of sportsmanship in tournament play and the finest traditions of the great sportspersons of tennis past and present. The award is given in honor of 1967 Hall of Famer Bill Talbert, who was highly regarded for his high standards of sportsmanship. Four recipients are selected from nominations received from the seventeen USTA sections. The Middle States section encompasses Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey (exclusive of a 35-mile radius around New York City) and northwestern West Virginia.
"This nomination means the world to me," commented Merali. "I love playing tennis. Tennis is my life, it always has been. I always try to be really nice on the court. It gets a little intense and some people get really competitive, so it means a lot to me that people think that I'm a good person. It means everything to me."
Merali was recognized by USTA tournament directors for her good sportsmanship, leading to the nomination. In addition to her demeanor on the court, Merali used a family vacation to Tanzania, her father's native country, in the summer of 2011 to provide tennis education to one of the poorest countries in Africa.
She took it one step further than just instructing, using social media to contact other Middle States players and collect over 400 pounds of tennis gear to distribute to children through the Tanzania Tennis Association. With much leftover after distributing the gear to the tennis players, Merali and her family took the remainder of the items to local orphanages to donate. Her deeds were so impressive that she was greeted by Tanzania's Sports Minister and was televised in the evening national news.
Temple women's tennis coach Steve Mauro is not surprised by the nomination. "This comes as no shock to me, given the caliber of person Jasmine is," said Mauro. "Even though she's only been a member of the team for a short time, she continues to bring a high-level of sportsmanship to the courts every day. It has been a pleasure coaching her thus far this season and I look forward to working with her this year."
Merali's name is now entered into the pool of recipients from the 16 other USTA sections. Winners are selected in mid-November.