Camas youth one of 10 winners of national essay contest

Varun Medhal spent a weekend in New York as a guest at several exclusive tennis events and activities

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Varun Medhal (center with plaque), stands with his mom, Vidyavathi and other dignitaries from the United States Tennis Assocation. Varun was honored with a weekend trip to New York City for his essay on famous tennis player Arthur Ashe's greatest accomplishment.

Varun Medhal spent a weekend enjoying what most tennis enthusiasts can only dream of doing: He had an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City to tour the National Tennis Center, sat in a Presidential Box during Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day, and ate lunch at the hospitality suite at the United States Open.

The Camas youth was awarded the trip after being named one of 10 winners of the USTA’s National Junior Tennis and Learning essay contest.

The theme of the 12th annual contest was to write about whether he believed Arthur Ashe’s greatest accomplishment was winning the U.S. Open.

Medhal, 14 and an avid tennis player himself at Union High School, said the win was great accomplishment, but Ashe had gone far above and beyond that.

“His ability to serve others and his humanitarian efforts without intentions of seeking recognition or reward was the greatest accomplishment of his life,” Medhal said.

He decided to enter the contest after reading about it online a few years ago.

Medhal was shocked to hear he was one of 10 national winners.

“I had to first let everything sink in,” he said. “Once I realized that I won I was overjoyed.”

Medhal traveled to New York City the weekend of Aug. 27-29 to take part in a variety of activities, which included a Circle Line Cruise around the city, tickets to Broadway’s “Wicked” and seats in the president’s box for the 2010 Arthur Ashe Kids’s Day at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

The weekend ended with an awards luncheon hosted by former New York City Mayor and USTA board member David Dinkins, where Medhal received an honorary plaque.

A big highlight for Medhal was touring the tennis center.

“I have to say that was the best part of the trip,” he said. “There I was able to see John and Patrick McEnroe and many other players. To see those players so up close was amazing.”

Medhal also met top college tennis players from Stanford and Duke, and went to a New York Mets baseball game.

“Overall, the trip was one of the greatest and most memorable experiences of my life,” he said.