Mount Airy senior Jade Hughes has received the Charlotte Yokley Memorial Tennis Award.
Pam Yokley Greenwood presented the award to Hughes at a Lady Bears tennis banquet recently. The award is named for Pam’s daughter who died in an accident 22 years ago.
“I am truly grateful to be honored in such a way by receiving Charlotte’s award,” said Hughes. “Being part of the Mount Airy tennis program has helped me grow as a person.”
The award isn’t given out every single year, but rather when a player exemplifies the characteristics that Charlotte exhibited such as sportsmanship and perseverance.
“It symbolizes love, desire and dedication to the game of tennis,” said Greenwood.
Hughes started playing tennis back about the fifth grade, said mom Annette, and she has put in a lot of hard work over the years.
The Bear players cast their vote on the award, and Hughes was the clear choice.
“Jade is the one that definitely deserves that award,” said Coach Scott Kniskern. She was always good about cheering everyone else on. After singles matches, she would make the loop around to all the girls, making sure they were ready to go for doubles.
“She never viewed herself as a leader, but she always was,” he said. She simply led by example, like showing the younger players how hard she would practice and how attentive she would be to the coaches’ instructions.
“While tennis is commonly seen as an individual sport, my years as a Mount Airy tennis player have shown me that that’s not true,” said Hughes. “You learn to depend on and care for your teammates as they do for you. You pray for your serve to go in, but you pray even harder for your teammate’s next ace. Within the Mount Airy tennis program, bonds are built that can never be broken.”
In giving out the award last year to Matt Kessler, Greenwood said, “This award has nothing to do with how great a player you are.”
Hughes posted an outstanding won-loss record the past two years, but was often overshadowed by her teammates.
Jordan Jackson went to three straight 1A state title championships and won as a junior. Davi Barbour and Haley Thomas made great runs as a doubles team the past two years.
Hughes often has been identified by her teammates. She is known for her doubles play with partner Elizabeth Dinkins. She is known for being the big sister to fifth seed Bree Hughes.
Yet, she went through the regular season without a singles defeat as a junior playing the fifth spot.
Then this year she moved up to the third seed and faced greater competition. She also played with several different doubles partners as Dinkins missed almost all of the season with an illness.
Despite all that, her record for both singles and doubles this year was 34-2, the best winning percentage on the team.
Having a real talent like Jordan on the team can draw attention away from the rest of the girls, Kniskern said. Jackson might finish a match in 40 minutes while Hughes might have to battle for an hour and a half to put away an opponent.
One great player doesn’t make a great team, the coach said. In the state playoffs, Jordan lost to the top player from Lake Norman Charter, but the rest of the girls went 5-0 to clinch the win. And Jade was always the one trying to pump up her teammates.
After graduation, Hughes plans to continue her education at Liberty University.