Induction Year: 2012
Hugh Sweeney (1928-2008) was born in Shreveport, Louisiana. He began playing tennis as a teenager. He attended Byrd High School in Shreveport. Sweeney went on to college at the University of Houston. His coaches included Bob Nesmith and John Hoff.
“Sween” played the international circuit for many years, qualifying for Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, before settling in Houston. He was the tallest man on the world “amateur” circuit in the 1950s and the last to play in long pants.
Sweeney's volunteer recruiting helped build the tennis program at Lamar University in Beaumont into a major regional power. One of his first recruits was Texas Tennis Hall of Fame Inductee Tim Heckler who he approached in 1959 while at Wimbledon.
Sweeney helped build the Virginia Slims Tour in Houston after Gladys Heldman organized the first-ever women’s professional tournament at the Houston Racquet Club in 1970. He built Net Set Racquet Club which hosted its first Virginia Slims in 1973 and, as Westside Tennis Club, its last in 1995. The club later became home to the ATP tour from 2001 through 2007.
Teaming up with Lamar Hunt, Sweeney brought the WCT end of year championships to Houston, which led up to the WCT finals in Dallas. He was the owner of the “Houston Angels” World Championship women’s basketball team of the WBL. The WBL preceded the WNBA. Hugh also brought top-flight “high goal polo” to Houston and promoted it successfully for many years.
Hugh Sweeney (far right) at the groundbreaking of Net Set Racquet Club, the current Westside Tennis and Fitness in Houston.