Former Division II tennis player Hugo Ball-Greene, owner and head coach at Ellsworth Tennis Center, is a Paris native whose tennis connections brought him to Ellsworth in March of 2020. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY ANNE BERLEANT

Parisian transplant finds the ball’s in his court



ELLSWORTH — The Ellsworth Tennis Center may be tucked away off Eastward Lane, but local players know where to find the courts. And owner Hugo Ball-Greene, marking his first year at the center, has brought a bit of new life to the tennis facility, along with his French accent.

A Paris native, Ball-Greene arrived in the U.S. several years ago, first at a small college in Wichita, Kan., on a sports scholarship. Three semesters later, he was at Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, N.Y., where he was a first singles and doubles player on its Division II team.

By January 2019, he found work as an assistant tennis coach at a Hastings-on-Hudson club just outside of New York City. About 15 months later, COVID-19 hit.

Or, as Ball-Greene described it with a ghost of a grin: “Then the end of the world happened.”

Ball-Greene already had an Ellsworth connection through Susan Scherbel, the owner of the Eastward Lane facility that houses the tennis center. Her son Sean Flynn, currently the top singles player for John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor, had attended a Vermont tennis camp run by the club where Ball-Greene coached.

“We connected,” Ball-Greene said, and Scherbel invited him to work with Sean in August of 2019 in Ellsworth.

Come March of 2020, Scherbel reached out to him again.

“I guess you don’t have a job, she said. She was guessing right,” Ball-Greene said.

An extension to his tourist visa bought him enough time to establish himself in Ellsworth and then, when he assumed the business in November of 2020, his visa became sponsored by Scherbel.

The center is part of the New England branch of the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and most players have USTA ratings and compete statewide, through the center, Ball-Greene said.

But you do not have to be a member to step on the court, and group classes and clinics are available at all levels. A gym is also on the premises.

“We’re trying to encourage younger players,” Ball-Greene said. So, for players under 30, they pay the dollar equivalent of their age each month.

The center gives back to its community at Christmastime, when it and Scherbel sponsor 20 families at the Emmaus Homeless Shelter, longtime staffer Karen Robidoux said.

And Ball-Greene still finds time to compete a little himself, he said, as he continues to settle into the city.

Not only is Ellsworth a great place, Ball-Greene said, “but especially during COVID, it’s probably the safest place on the planet.”

For information on Ellsworth Tennis Center, visit ellsworthtenniscenter.com or email [email protected].

Anne Berleant

Anne Berleant

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Anne Berleant covers news and features in Ellsworth, Mariaville, Otis, Amherst, Aurora, Great Pond and Osborn. When not reporting, find her hiking local trails, reading or watching professional tennis. Email her at [email protected]

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