Tamika first joined the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation when she was four years old. She grew up in a dangerous neighborhood in Southeast DC, where drugs, crime and violence were pervasive. She got involved with WTEF’s Arthur Ashe Children’s Program in elementary school and loved it so much that she continued in the Center for Excellence through middle and high school. “Every day after school there was always someone at WTEF to make me feel secure and valued, especially Willis Thomas, who was my coach and role model,” recalls Tamika. “It was a safe place to go after school and a place where I gained confidence and self respect. Tennis kept me off the streets and away from trouble. It shaped who I was at an early age.”
Tamika credits WTEF with showing her the possibilities life has to offer through summer trips to tournaments and college campuses. She graduated notoriously dangerous Ballou High School as Valedictorian in three years and won the DC Interhigh Tennis Championship twice. She received and academic scholarship to attend the University of Arizona, and was the first person in her family to attend college. “It would have been very easy for me to turn out like some of my classmates and drop out of school or get involved with the wrong people,” Tamika said. Many of the people I started high school with where not on stage with me at graduation.”
Tamika graduates with honors from the University of Arizona this spring with a degree in physiology. Upon graduation she plans to pursue a career in the armed services.