By Joseph Staszewski
Sharon Rimal represented her country in a different and more public way at the US Open last week.
The Whitestone resident and sergeant 1st class in the New York Army National Guard was selected to be honored during the USTA’s Military Appreciation Night Sept. 1.
Rimal, 29, and retiring city Commissioner for Veteran’s Affairs Terrance C. Holliday were part of the coin flip ceremony prior to the men’s singles match between Kei Nishikori of Japan and Milos Raonic of Canada.
Rimal, who attended the event with her husband Bishwat, got to toss the coin after being announced to the crowd at Arthur Ash Stadium. She had some butterflies before heading out onto the court.
“It’s a bit nerve-wracking knowing it is a very high visibility event and what a great honor it would be to represent the military,” Rimal said. “I’m nervous, but honored. Try not to trip, I guess.”
She came over to the United States from China as an 11-year-old and joined the military “out of curiosity” when she was 17. Her enlistment came in February 2002, just months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. Rimal wanted to do her part.
“I wanted to do something to give back to the country that offered me education and opportunities,” she said.
Rimal, a casual tennis fan, is part of the 27th Financial Management Co. and did two tours of duty in Kuwait, in 2008-09 and 2013-14. When deployed she is in charge of monitoring the finances of the unit she is assigned to and its contracts with outside entities to made sure the soldiers and commanders have everything they need to be successful.
Rimal, when back in the United States, has the responsibility of teaching her unit and new recruits and preparing them to be solders.
It was during a training exercise in Albany that she found out she would be heading to the US Open. Any reminder she can give people about the importance of our military is a good one. In addition, numerous Wounded Warriors have become ballpersons at this year’s US Open tournament, further raising awareness of what those in the military give up to keep us safe.
“The more people that understand the military and their sacrifice means we have more support,” Rimal said. “We definitely need more support.”