Updated: Mar 23, 2021
Paula Hale, past President of the USTA Southern Section and the USTA Southern Tennis Foundation, first picked up a tennis racquet while she was in college at East Carolina University. After the tennis class she took at ECU, she didn't play again for several years as golf was her primary sport. Then she realized, after graduating from college, that work didn't allow much time for golf so she dusted off her old tennis racquet and didn’t look back!
“Tennis is the perfect sport for fun, fitness, and friends,” she said.
Since she first caught the tennis bug, Paula has had a passion for finding ways to introduce tennis to others. Paula recognizes that the growth of tennis happens at the local level, so much of her volunteer work has been to develop resources to help community tennis associations (such as the Raleigh Tennis Association) deliver tennis to anyone who wants to learn the game.
In the 1980s, she got involved with volunteer work through the North Carolina Tennis Association (NCTA) with a focus on community tennis. Before the internet, one of Paula’s first volunteer roles was to help sanction and schedule North Carolina tennis tournaments on long, handwritten sheets of paper.
With all of Paula’s tireless efforts helping to grow tennis in North Carolina, it only made sense that she would eventually take on leadership roles with the NCTA and the North Carolina Tennis Foundation (NCTF). Paula was president of the NCTA from 2002 to 2003 and president of the NCTF from 2004 to 2005.
Through her volunteer work at all levels, Paula has developed a passion to see tennis succeed as the sport of choice for people of all ages. The list of her volunteer positions throughout the years is remarkable!
“What sport can you play from age 5 to 95 that provides fun, exercise, and lifelong friends? The tennis community is truly a second family. I've gotten to know tennis advocates from all over the country and many are great friends.”
So what does Paula love about tennis?
“I love to laugh and every time I play I get a chance to laugh. I love my tennis friends, our fun times on the court, and traveling to events and getaways. I love getting exercise in such a fun way. I plan to play as long as all the joints hold up. As they say, you don't stop playing tennis because you get old, you get old because you stop playing tennis.”
Paula’s selfless work has been recognized throughout the years. Among the many honors and awards Paula has received throughout the years, the Barbara Williams Leadership Award means the most to her because the award recognizes a female volunteer who through her leadership and by her example has encouraged and inspired others to become volunteers and assume leadership roles at the community, section and/or national levels of the USTA.
Paula, thanks for all you have done to help grow the sport of tennis within the Raleigh Tennis community, North Carolina, the Southern section, and across the country. You are a true leader and help make our sport better!