Maya Martin, who just finished her sophomore year at Lafayette High
, has been playing tennis for nearly a decade. For the past couple of years, she has made it her mission to share her love of the sport with children in her community as a United States Tennis Association (USTA) Net Generation Ambassador.
"This sport has given me so much, and I've had so much fun with it," Martin said. "If another kid can experience that, I definitely want to expose them to that."
Martin, an accomplished player for the Lancers and in USTA junior tournaments, spreads her love of tennis by traveling the country for events and speaking engagements and through her active Instagram account
USTA Missouri Valley, which includes Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma, recently named Martin one of its 100 Gold Star award winners. The awards recognize contributions in supporting and growing the game of tennis. She is one of two Gold Star winners in the St. Louis district.
"It's such an honor to be in the same category with these amazing people in Missouri Valley who do so much for junior tennis," Martin said.
Martin is still practicing and training, although COVID-19 restrictions make it more difficult than usual. She was planning to host a kids' fun day in April, with equipment and coaching provided for participants, but that is tabled for the near future.
In the meantime, she is launching a video podcast called "Break Point" on her Instagram page. In it, Martin interviews professional tennis players about their time on the junior circuit.Her first episode
, which posted May 27, features American player Frances Tiafoe, who has been ranked as high as No. 29 in the world. Martin plans to post an episode once a month before eventually moving to once every two weeks.
"It's a whole new take on a tennis interview," Martin said. "I've always looked to professional players to figure out what they did in juniors to make them successful. These are the people I've looked up to for so long. Being able to have a true, genuine conversation with them about what they've gone through and how it may help other juniors, it's so cool."