Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America
January 29, 2000 - Issue 02

Student Excels on the Tennis Court
Adapted by Vicki Lockard from an article at

 At 16, Wahlesah Dick of Tahlequah has accomplished much already on the tennis court and in her community.

She is one of few Native Americans playing tennis on a competitive level. A high school junior, she participates in the Oklahoma District Tennis Association, the Missouri Valley Tennis Association (both sanctioned by the United States Tennis Association), and played in the number one singles position this past season for the Tahlequah High School Lady Tigers tennis team.

"Wahlesah set many goals for herself beginning at an early age," her father James McIntosh said. "She began actively playing tennis when she was nine years old."

Dick has actually been playing tennis since she was three, McIntosh said. She began by hitting tennis balls on the sidewalk, after he gave her a racquet.

She recently returned from Overland Park, Kan., after advancing to the pre-qualifier of the Missouri Valley Tennis Association, which is made up of players from five states. Dick was one of five players from Oklahoma to be invited to play in the pre-qualifier. She has played in 25 tournaments this year, and she said she has done well in most of them.

Dick wants to someday visit Indian reservations to give tennis lessons to children. She also hopes to attend a major college to study Indian law and work as an attorney.

She said she became interested in law while reading her mother's Indian law books when she was younger.

"One day she hopes to be in court as a lawyer while still enjoying playing tennis on the court," McIntosh said.

She was recently asked to make a presentation at the National Indian Education Association meeting in Oklahoma City. She said she spoke about living a positive life, the power of one person to make a difference and the need for students to be leaders.

Dick is an advocate of community service learning and encourages other Indian students to serve the community. She works with various groups in Tahlequah that serve the community.

"A lot of Native American kids don't know what service learning can do for them," Dick said. "Service learning helps you learn so much, and you can help solve problems in the community that no one else is going to do anything about."

She has received the Robert F. Kennedy award for community service, and was chosen in 1996, as a reward for her community service, to carry the Olympic torch as it was carried across the country. At 13, she was one of the youngest people chosen for the honor.

Dick earned a place on her school's honor roll last year, and her high school tennis team has been Academic State Champions the last two years. She is a member of the Native Reflections Service and Heritage Club, the National Honor Society and Future Teachers of America. Her mother is Georgia Dick of Tahlequah.

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