Anna Monhartova: Leading award-winning NJTL in New Orleans

March 21, 2024
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Anna Monhartova with her boys, Lukas and Jakub, who were helping A's & Aces deliver used balls, blankets, towels and toys to an animal shelter.

If your mind can conceive it and your heart can believe it, then you will achieve it. This is an expression that we have heard over the years.

Achieving our goals and dreams gives us hope for better and brighter days ahead.

Anna Monhartova was exposed to the great game of tennis by her parents in her native country of Czech Republic when she was five years old. Because of her budding talent and good coaching, she was selected to be on their national junior team when she was just 13.

Wanting to play tennis in America, she received a tennis scholarship to St. John’s University in New York where she was a stellar student-athlete. Tulane University in New Orleans was a transfer stop for her where she continued to excel both academically and athletically. David Schumacher, then the assistant women’s tennis coach and later the head coach, was instrumental in recruiting Monhartova.

“I was attracted to the richness of the city of New Orleans and the reputation of Tulane University as one of the top schools in the country. I felt this was a good match for me," she explained.

Monhartova became one of the premier players in Conference USA. While at Tulane, she received the Conference USA (Women’s Tennis) Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Tulane University Female Student-Athlete of the Year, as well as the Conference USA Women’s Tennis Player of the Decade Award. In 2007, she was inducted into the Tulane Athletics Hall of Fame.

She is quite humble and modest in talking about her many accolades and honors. She was more comfortable talking about her teams and their accomplishments as champions.

An academic scholar, she earned her Ph.D. from Tulane and teaches as an adjunct lecturer at Tulane’s School of Architecture and a research fellow at the Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking. Monhartova is a proponent of the power of education, whether formal or informal, and how it can change lives, saying, “Education helps create a lasting foundation in your life. Once you have it, it is with you forever.”

Co-founder of A's & Aces

Monhartova, and Schumacher are the co-founders of A’s & Aces in New Orleans in 2008 following Hurricane Katrina. The NJTL’s mission is to provide academic assistance, life skills and tennis to local children and others who lack access to quality academic assistance and tennis.

“Tennis is a game you can play well into your adult life. It provides you with both social and competitive opportunities. I would love to see more children, especially those from historically under-represented populations, to be able to play and benefit from this sport,” she added.

A’s & Aces is a highly regarded program in tennis circles. It has received awards and USTA recognition at the state, sectional, and national levels. A's & Aces received the 2015 and 2023 USTA Southern NJTL Chapter of the Year and the 2008 and 2015 USTA Southern Educational Merit Award. Numerous other honors are listed on the NJTL's website.

Its longevity as an NJTL has created many success stories. Students staying in the program have become more self-confident and self-assured. Because of A’s & Aces, many students have been able to compete in tournaments, receive scholarships to attend college and enjoy tennis as a lifetime sport.

A's & Aces has a longstanding partnership with the New Orleans Recreation Department. Joe Brown Park Tennis Center and the Atkinson Stern Tennis Center are the A’s & Aces’ sites for year-round programming.

Monhartova is an extraordinary tennis ambassador. Her persona and tennis experiences have fostered an environment that is fun and fulfilling. Her innate ability to implement the objectives of A’s & Aces has drawn high praise from parents and teachers alike.

One parent said, “Anna is a very giving person, and my child really enjoys going to practice. He talks constantly about the new friends that he has made.” A local teacher said, “My students are benefitting a great deal from the academic component of this program.”

James B. Ewers Jr. Ed.D. is a member of the Black Tennis Hall of Fame and a former chair of the USTA Southern Diversity, Inclusion & Equity Committee.

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