Growing up in Menlo Park and attending Sacred Heart Prep, Haley Hemm was never too far from Stanford University. In fact, Hemm will be on campus when the NCAA Men's and Women's Tennis Championships get under way Thursday at the Taube Family Tennis Center.
However, Hemm won't be wearing the color of the Cardinal. Instead, she'll be wearing Tar Heel blue while cheering on her teammates playing for No. 4-ranked North Carolina.
Hemm came close to playing tennis for Stanford. She met with Cardinal women's coach Lele Forood in October of her senior year and was told by Forood to apply. Hemm wound up being deferred that December.
Faced with waiting on Stanford and losing all her scholarship offers, Hemm committed to North Carolina. As it turned out, it was a great fit for Hemm.
Now at junior at UNC, Hemm was named the Carolina region's Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship Award recipient, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced last week.
Hemm, an inspirational leader on the team throughout her career, is an active contributor to the community, both locally and globally, as well as a standout in the classroom. The SHP grad has been an active participant in the Coach for College program, an outreach effort which uses the skills student-athletes have in their sport to motivate youth in Vietnam to seek higher education, as well as Carolina Dreams, a student-athlete project to serve the N.C. Children's Hospital.
The North Carolina women will open the Round of 16 on Friday against Vanderbilt at 3 p.m. Unfortunately for Hemm, she may not be playing after losing some matches at the end of the season.
"She was really bummed," said her mother, Dawn, an assistant athletic director at Sacred Heart Prep. "But, she loves her teammates so much. She is so positive."
In other tennis news:
The Palo Alto Tennis Club, a community tennis association, holds six drop-ins a month to save players the trouble of organizing games and finding players. Every Saturday, the club has three courts reserved at Cubberley Community Center from 8- 11 a.m. And, every first and third Sunday, there is a drop-in at the Rinconada tennis courts (Hopkins & Cedar) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The events are open to the public. PATC is a volunteer-driven and not-for-profit organization. For more information: www.paloaltotennis.com.
The club also will host the USTA-sanctioned Palo Alto Jr. Novice Tennis Tournament on June 25-26 from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Rinconada Park. The event is geared toward boys and girls who have not yet played in a USTA tournament.
Divisions are for boys and girls 12-under, 14-under and 16-under.
Registration is under way now until June 15 at www.norcal.usta.com. Scroll to Juniors Jr. tournament and click on tournament schedules, then 2011 Complete Tournament Schedule and then June. Scoll down to "Palo Alto Jr. Novice June 25-26 and click the link.
The Menlo Polo Club will hold its second annual United States Polo Association Sanctioned Ladies' Tournament on Saturday, May 28, at the Menlo Circus Club in Atherton.
Teams comprised of local and out-of-town amateur and professional women players will compete for trophies while proceeds will benefit The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) – the worldwide leader for research to cure type 1 diabetes.
"This is a watershed event for the ladies' tournament because we've added an important charitable partner this year – JDRF," said Lyn Jason Cobb, president of The Menlo Polo Club. "We've been incredibly impressed by the passion and commitment of JDRF to their efforts in advancing research toward a cure and we look forward to having them be a part of our event."
"The Bay Area Chapter of JDRF is one of the largest and most progressive chapters in the nation with nearly 20,000 members strong," said Christine Ackermann, JDRF development director. "Events – like The Menlo Polo Club Ladies' Tournament – are an important way for us to continue to advocate for our cause, reach new members and provide opportunities for our families and volunteers to come together and enjoy a fun event."
Opening ceremonies will begin at 11 a.m. and last match is estimated to end at 3 p.m. Spectators are encouraged to bring comfortable chairs. Parking available at nearby Sacred Heart Prep and St. Joseph School.