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Learning to Adapt

June 14, 2010 10:05 PM

Eduardo Lugo overcame his disability to play the game he loves

By Stephanie Pankiw

Eduardo Lugo was looking for a sport to play because he wanted something to do.  He was attracted by the physical strength and skills that are required for tennis, and was especially captivated by the mental strength that is crucial to the game.  The sport seemed fun and challenging, but Lugo wasn’t always sure he would be able to play.  He wasn’t sure because Lugo has only one arm, and in a game where most players use both, he wasn’t sure if he would be at too great a disadvantage.   

“You know you have to see if you have some skills that you can adapt, I see people playing in glasses, wheelchairs, so why can’t I do it,” Lugo said. 

About six years ago he decided he could do it, started playing and hasn’t stopped since.  Lugo, a Princeton N.J. resident, says his disability is just like any other disability people have to overcome to play the game.  He plays often, especially with his 3.5 USTA League team, Hightstown.

This past weekend, Lugo, 37, competed in the US Open National Playoffs Sectional Qualifying Tournament in West Windsor, N.J. at Mercer County Park.  After receiving a bye in the first round, he lost to his second round opponent, Ryan Gargullo.  He didn’t think he would win the tournament, but like most of the players, was excited for the opportunity. 

“An opportunity to play in the US Open, that’s exactly what it is,” Lugo explained, “a chance to play against some really great guys.”

Lugo isn’t looking to prove anything or gain recognition for what he has overcome.  He knew he would have to work harder than a lot of other players but it’s clear that to him, it’s worth it.  He enjoys playing the game and has fun every time he’s out on the court.

“It’s not my hope [to inspire others] but some people think I do and that makes me feel good about it,” Lugo said, “I just want to have fun.” 

 

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