LOCAL ACE: Eleven-year-old Alexis Almy of Southborough has always looked up to Steffie Graf, even though the tennis legend retired before she was born. So Alexis was especially excited to compete recently in the third annual Longines Future Tennis Aces on the Road to the French Open, a junior qualifying tournament in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., because Graf was involved in her selection.
The event for girls 10 to 12 years old took place at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the site of the US Open. The 16 participants also included Maria Mateas of Braintree as well as players from Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and California.
The champion was Rachel Lim of Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., who will compete against the winners of 15 other national tournaments at Roland Garros, the site of the French Open, on June 7 and 8 for the chance to play against Graf.
Although Alexis hoped to travel to Paris, she was consoled by the inspiration and coaching she received from Billie Jean King and 1993 French Open doubles champion Luke Jensen, coach of the Syracuse University women’s tennis team.
Alexis, who is ranked No. 6 in the 12-and-under division of USTA New England, was selected for the competition as a result of her 300-word essay on the importance of giving back.
In the essay, which was judged by a panel including the 22-time Grand Slam champion Graf, Alexis describes her regular donations of food and sports gear and her summer plans to volunteer at Tenacity Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides literacy, life skills, and tennis instruction to at-risk youth in Boston.
She wrote, “I believe if you are lucky enough to have so many wonderful things in your life that you should help those that are not as fortunate by donating your extra food and time.”
GIVING BACK: Marine Corporal Kevin Chambers of Maynard was just 20 years old when he was deployed to Afghanistan in August 2008. After suffering a number of concussions while his platoon combed Helmand Province for improvised explosive devices, he received a medical discharge from the service in November.
Michael Chambers, who also lives in Maynard, credits the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund with assisting his son in returning home and providing services and equipment for his recovery from traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress syndrome.
To give back to the organization, he is teaming with Marine Corps veteran Jason Foley, commander of American Legion Post 235 in Maynard, and Lowell residents James Quinn, owner of Ink Jam Tattoo Studio in Arlington, and hair stylist Amanda Ortiz, sister of Marine Mallory Ortiz, to raise funds and awareness for injured veterans.
On Tuesday, Ortiz will hold a cut-a-thon from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Robert’s Salon and Spa, 66 Leonard St. in Belmont. On June 30 from 12:30 to 10 p.m., Quinn will hold a tattoo-a-thon at his studio at 12 Park Avenue in Arlington. Their proceeds will be combined with funds raised by the third annual Ink Jam Tattoo Studio Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund Summer Bash on July 15, 12:30 to 6 p.m., at the Maynard Rod Gun Club at 45 Old Mill Road. The event will include a motorcycle ride, music provided by Digger Dawg, a barbecue, contests, raffles, and kids’ games.
“We’re looking to raise as much money as possible, but also awareness, because I don’t think people realize how many men and women are getting injured in Afghanistan every day,” said Chambers, noting that the first two summer bashes raised a combined total of $40,000. “I wish it was more, but it does make a difference.”
Admission is $15, with ages age 12 and younger admitted free. For details, contact Chambers at 978-430-6905 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
CREATIVE JOB SEARCH: After graduating from Lexington High School in 2002, Christina Mercado went through a series of career changes and job interviews before landing her current position in marketing and project management.
Hoping to inspire other recent grads struggling to find a job, she wrote and illustrated a picture book for grown-ups, “You Can Do It, Bunny! Tales of a Young Animal’s Job-Hunting Adventures.”
In the story, Bunny is passed over in favor of Mr. Dog for a job fetching foul balls during baseball games, Ms. Elephant for watering plants in the community garden, and Mr. Giraffe for harvesting apples at the orchard. Throughout the process, however, Bunny’s family and friends remain upbeat.
Mercado, who holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a master’s in business administration, said she lost track of the number of her job interviews over a six-month period of “purgatory.” However, she credits the “unconditional and unshakable” faith of her support network with her own happy ending.
Another silver lining was the time it gave her to learn about book creation, website design, and the self-publishing industry.
“My advice is don’t give up,” she said. “It’s easy to feel that the negative things that happen are a reflection of you as a person, but hold onto your confidence, stay hopeful, and pursue activities that excite and inspire you. You might not have a job right now, but you’re still awesome.”
Mercado’s book is available in paperback at Back Pages Books in Waltham, the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, and online at www.gobunnybooks.com. She is working to raise up to $6,500 through June 15 on Kickstarter.com for a hardcover printing, with pre-orders accepted for $20.
A “light” version is also available on iTunes.
KIDS HELPING KIDS: When her daughter, Kayleigh, was diagnosed with liver cancer at age 5 in January 2008, Westborough resident Corinne McCabe and their family found support through a group of cyclists who rode in Kayleigh’s honor in the 190-mile Pan-Massachusetts Challenge, raising money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
Now 9 years old and cancer-free, Kayleigh and her family are continuing their own tradition of giving back to other families going through cancer treatment. Next Sunday, they will lead the fourth annual PMC Westborough Kids Ride from 9 a.m. to noon at Westborough High School.
According to McCabe, the Westborough ride has raised approximately $35,000 since its inception. The event is capped at 200 participants between 3 and 13 years old.
“As a family, we want to continually give back to Dana-Farber because they gave us Kayleigh’s life back,” said McCabe, emphasizing the contributions of her husband, Patrick, and 13-year-old son, Michael. “She’s our inspiration.”
The registration fee is $10. For more information, visit kids.pmc.org/westborough.
WHO’S WHAT WHERE: Barry Brown of Newton has been appointed as the eighth president of Mount Ida College in Newton, effective July 1. Previously, Brown was provost, a law professor, and acting president of Suffolk University in Boston.
Carlisle resident Brigitte Senkler, a sales associate and vice president of the Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage office in Concord, has been ranked as the No. 6 Coldwell Banker real estate professional in North America. Senkler closed $87 million in property sales last year.