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Prep tennis: Playing with a purpose

Two local high school players put together a summer tournament to benefit a cancer research

Posted: July 11, 2013 9:21 p.m.
Updated: July 11, 2013 9:21 p.m.

(Top row, from left) Lauren Dam with her mother Michelle Dam. (Bottom row, from left) Sonia Klein, 97, and great-granddaughter Sydney Schwartz. Michelle Dam overcame breast cancer six years ago, while Sonia Klein beat the disease 28 years ago. Lauren Dam and Sydney Schwartz organized Rally for Life, a charity tennis tournament, to raise money...

 

The issue of cancer research hits home for Foothill League tennis players Sydney Schwartz and Lauren Dam.

Both have had family members directly affected by the disease.

It’s why the two students decided to organize a charity doubles/mixed doubles tennis tournament this weekend to benefit City of Hope National Medical Center, a nonprofit research center best known for treating cancer patients.

The event, called Rally for Life, will take place Saturday at Hart High’s tennis courts beginning at 8 a.m.
“This is something that’s close to my heart,” said Schwartz, a West Ranch High varsity tennis player who will be a junior this fall. “This is my third time doing it and tennis is just a great way to raise money and I can do it with all the people that I’m closest to.”

Schwartz’s great grandmother is a breast cancer survivor and her great grandfather was recently re-diagnosed with brain cancer.

Dam, a varsity tennis player at Hart and senior-to-be, has similarly seen family members deal with the disease. Her mother fought off breast cancer six years ago and her grand uncle recently died of lymphoma.
Both were difficult to handle, she said.

“Since my mother is a breast cancer survivor, I know what it feels like to be affected by it, and it is not fun,” Dam said. “She has done so much for me and I can’t imagine my life without her. I am thankful that she is still in my life today, and I feel that giving back to the cancer organizations is a big thank you from not only my mom, but from me, as well.”

She and Schwartz will join forces as a doubles team in the tournament.

Each doubles pairing is placed into a bracket based on skill level and age group.

The majority of those signed up for the tournament also play for high school teams in the Santa Clarita Valley.
The two teenage organizers encouraged players of all ages and abilities to join, though. Dam’s father, Thomas and his 72-year-old friend Bob Neuman will pair up in the event.

Another team will consist of Schwartz’s 11-year-old sister and 8-year-old brother.

So far, 38 people have signed up, Schwartz said. Entrants are charged a $10 entry fee, but each one gets a handful of new tennis gear provided by some of the sponsors.

While winners of the tournament will receive trophies donated by R & R Awards and Promotions, attendees of the event can win all kinds of prizes of their own.

All the prizes set to be raffled off were donated by the expansive list of sponsors.

This tournament is the third of its kind organized by Schwartz, but the first one done during the summertime.
In past years, she’s held it around her birthday in early November.

She first thought of the idea around her 13th birthday, when she decided to ask for supporters of a charity tennis event rather than ask for birthday presents.

“There’s nothing I really need and there’s many other people that are in need, so I’d rather have that money going toward some people that really need it,” Schwartz said.

In past years, the event has raised as many as $750, but she hopes to eclipse the $1,000 mark this year.
Some of the top prizes that will be raffled include three pairs of $210 sunglasses, courtesy of Oakley, in addition to a bunch of high-end tennis paraphernalia donated by Wilson, Babolat and Prince.

Also included as a sponsor is Spartos, a local beverage company that sells protein water and is endorsed by NFL quarterback and Hart High graduate Matt Moore.

Attendance to the event is free, though organizers will charge a small fee for raffle tickets to help feed into the pot which will be donated.

All proceeds will go to City of Hope.

Those wishing to enter the tournament can contact Sydney Schwartz at 661-645-5680.

dagnew@signalscv.com

661-287-5530

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