FILA is proud to announce that Imelda Soto-Garcia and Vander Woody have been named the inaugural winners of the Spirit of Tennis Scholarships in support of the USTA Foundation. Both students are participants in the USTA Foundation’s National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) Network, which
features nearly 300 nonprofit youth development organizations that offer free or low-cost tennis and education programming to under-resourced youth nationwide.
The Spirit of Tennis Scholarships were created earlier this year by FILA and the USTA Foundation to provide access and opportunity to students through the NJTL Network and are named in honor of two individuals who helped FILA establish its roots in tennis: former President of FILA North America Jonathan G. Epstein and longtime Global Tennis Marketing Executive Martin Mulligan Sr., who has been with the company since 1974.
“FILA is thrilled to present the first-ever Spirit of Tennis Scholarships to these two outstanding students,” said Jennifer Estabrook, President of FILA North America. “Imelda and Vander are tremendous individuals who have made incredible contributions to their schools, communities and families. They truly embody the values of both Jon and Martin, and we are proud to support them in the next phase of their lives.”
Imelda Soto-Garcia will be receiving the Jonathan G. Epstein FILA Spirit of Tennis Grant for her efforts and success both on and off the tennis court. Throughout her four years of high school, Imelda was a four-year varsity athlete on both the tennis and swim teams. During her time with the NJTL of Trenton program, she served as a volunteer coach for younger players, and became a mentor while leaving a lasting impact on the players and the program. Off the court, Imelda was named to the Academic Honor Roll all four years, maintaining a GPA of 3.5 or higher. She also received the Academic Achievement Award for four consecutive years. Imelda plans to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology this fall, where she will major in engineering.
The Martin Mulligan Sr. FILA Spirit of Tennis Grant will be awarded to Vander Woody, who plans to attend Xavier University in the fall. During his five years at the Metropolitan Tennis and Education Group (MTEG), an NJTL chapter supported by the USTA Foundation, Vander coached and educated younger players. Through this opportunity he broke through his comfort zone, used his passion and knowledge in tennis to give back to the sport, and became a mentor to the players.
Each scholarship recipient will receive $15,000 over the course of four years to cover costs of tuition, school-based expenses, and educational materials. The Foundation will award the Spirit of Tennis Scholarships annually through 2026 with FILA’s support of this program. FILA has also pledged an additional $15,000 per year through 2026 to support the USTA Foundation through a dedicated Player Grant and additional product offerings for NJTL programs. These funds will support individuals in the USTA Foundation’s Excellence Program through tennis education, tournament entry fees, and FILA product to provide opportunities for youth to pursue their passion for the sport of tennis, who may not otherwise have the financial means to advance in the sport.