QUEENS, N.Y. Mindy Hugo has been playing tennis since age 7. On Monday, she received one of the greatest honors of her career.
The Mount Vernon resident was one of 10 junior tennis players recognized by the United States Tennis Association Eastern Division for an essay that answered the question: If Arthur Ashe were alive today, what do you think would give him hope?
Hugo and the others received their awards at a Junior Awards Gala at the Hospitality Pavilion of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. She, for one, was surprised to be there.
This award was actually a really cool thing for me, Hugo said. I wrote the essay. I tried my best. I didnt think I was going to get this far. But when I found out I won, it was really cool.
Hugo got into tennis through the Mount Vernon Tennis Center. It was supposed to be just a hobby, but she fell in love with the sport. Her mother put her on a team and into tournaments.
She and her current team will soon travel to a national tournament in North Carolina.
The mornings festivities featured a speech from tennis analyst and former player Justin Gimelstob and words from various USTA Eastern officials. Julie Bliss, director of competition and player development for USTA Eastern, said the gala gave her a chance to see the faces of the players with whom she works throughout the year.
What I love about it is that I work with these kids all year. I work with their parents. I help them through the pathway. I assist them. They have questions, Bliss said. Its so nice to be able to interact with them face-to-face because so much of it is from a desk.
Hugo had never quite experienced an event like Monday and soaked up the whole atmosphere.
It was a gala and when I came in here, its so nice, Hugo said. I never got recognized for something like this. It was a nice first time.
Hugo said she would check out some of the professional matches at the US Open on Monday. She uttered just one word when asked which players she was excited to see.
Everyone, she said.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.