May 29, 2010

By Shane Mettlen Special to

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. - Tufts junior Julia Browne has already won one of tennis' major awards this month. Now she's hoping to add another.

Browne will play Sunday in the singles final of the NCAA Division III Women's Tennis Championships at the University of Mary Washington. But on May 20 she was named the winner of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's Northeast Region Arthur Ashe Award for Leadership and Sportsmanship.

"This award is the most significant award Julia has received because it reflects who she is as a person," Tufts coach Kate Bayard said. "I could not be more proud of the way Julia represents our team and our school. She has displayed the highest standard of sportsmanship and character since her first year at Tufts. Her leadership has been a key to our success as a team both on the court and in terms of giving back to the community."

According to the school's website, Browne won the award after convincing her teammates to help a single mother and her 3-month-old son move from a homeless shelter into an apartment. Browne and her teammates raised $2,500 for the family's move.

"My team and I were incredibly moved by seeing the faces and tears of joy of this wonderful young family as they entered their new home for the first time," Browne said. "No win on the court could ever be as rewarding and gratifying as what we felt after making a tangible difference in this family's life. We will truly cherish this experience forever."

CELTIC PRIDE: While the action on the court was obviously a topic of much conversation Saturday, a game on a different type of court was also getting a lot of attention among the crowd.

Massachusetts schools are well-represented at the tournament, with Tufts, Amherst and Williams playing well. That means Fredericksburg has been invaded by Boston Celtics fans, who watched their favorite team beat the Orlando Magic the night before to advance to the NBA Finals. One big Celtics fans who didn't get to watch the game was Williams senior Grace Baljon, who went to bed early to prepare for a long day of tennis. That decision paid off, with Baljon battling through the quarters and semis to advance to Sunday's singles championship round, where she'll face Browne. "I didn't get to watch last night," she said. "This makes up for missing the game, though."

DOUBLES WINDING DOWN: Browne has the opportunity to go home with two championships. She and teammate Megan McCooey advanced to Sunday's doubles semifinals with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Kenyon's Pritta Kidder and Amy Schlessman.

The Browne-McCooey duo will face Kendra Higgins and Krissy Hu of Chicago, who advanced to the semis with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Laura Chen and Ashley Herrick of Carnegie Mellon.

Kristin Cobb and Marta Drane of Denison beat Brittany Berckes and Laura Danzig of Amherst in another quarterfinal. They will now face Emory's Zahra Dawson and Lorne McManigle, who took down UC-Santa Cruz's Taylor Mannix and Ariana Mokhtari 6-4, 6-1.