USPTA Professional Hau Nguyen worked hard to earn his engineering degree. He worked hard to earn his MBA. All that hard work earned him a job in a high-tech industry, but it wasn’t where he wanted to be.
“Many of the companies just cared about money, stocks,” Nguyen said. “I left that area to pursue a full-time teaching career as a professor. That’s the main reason why, it’s so rewarding.”
That was several years ago. Nguyen is now a father of two, and he’s started teaching them to play tennis, as his father did with him.
He started young, around 5 years old, and played through high school into college, where an ankle injury spelled the end of his competitive career.
As his kids got older and began enjoying tennis for themselves, Nguyen put more thought into coaching. He loved teaching, and he loved tennis. Why not combine them?
“I know all the clubs want you to be USTPA-certified to be able to teach at the clubs,” he said. “What prompted me [to get certified] was to be respectable, to have other potential tennis students know, ‘He went to the training, he knows the technical aspects and he’s dedicated. He wants to pursue a higher level of training for coaching.’”
Nguyen attended last month’s USPTA World Conference in Las Vegas and was amazed by the slate of speakers, the Merchandise & Trade Show and how many people from around the tennis world he met.
“So many areas to learn, so many people to meet,” he said. “I networked with a lot of people. Having Andre Agassi come and talk was very inspiring. It was a great experience.
“I liked the sessions where you had that indoor court and they would give a lot of examples of different techniques. Having live demonstrations was really beneficial.”
In the month since the World Conference, Nguyen said he’s been able to apply what he learned with his students.
“I would totally recommend if pros have never been to this conference to go because it is very eye-opening,” he said. “It will help you become a better tennis coach and you just make good connections. Keeping up with all this continuing education is really important.”
Nguyen said he’s grateful to Rancho Bernardo head tennis professional and USPTA Elite Professional Jeff Dollins for giving him his opportunity at the club. Nguyen is also inspired by Antonio Recalde, a long-time friend and fellow USPTA Professional, and Hoc Vu, the coach that showed him the passion of coaching tennis. One day, he plans to open a “full blown high-performance youth tennis academy together with them.”
That’s among Nguyen’s many goals for the future. He also wants to excel as a coach to the point that his students go on to play in college and even professionally. But what he wants, perhaps above all, is to pursue his passion, and to push his students, on the court and in the classroom, to find theirs, too.
“I feel like I have the relationships and the technical aspects to help the students move forward. That’s my passion, that’s my goal,” he said. “I tell my students all the time, if you find a career that they don’t have to pay you and you would work for free, that’s your passion. That’s great.”