FARMINGTON — For the second straight year, 12-year-old tennis player Ethan Nguyen has been selected to play in the United States Tennis Association's 12 and under Zonals Team Championships in Tucson, Ariz.
Nguyen, a Farmington native and Hermosa Middle School student, is currently ranked eighth in the Southwest out of 129 eligible boys. The USTA rankings are based on the accomplishments of New Mexico, Arizona and El Paso, Texas, 12 and younger tennis players over the past year.
The top 12 boys and top 12 girls in the Southwest were chosen by the USTA to participate, and early next week they will be split into two teams — the Coyotes and the Roadrunners. At the end of the event, which starts Wednesday and ends Monday, July 11, the team with the most combined singles and doubles victories will be crowned the champion.
"I'm just really excited, because I really like to play on the team with all my friends," Nguyen said. "It's just really fun to play with new people, instead of the normal people around here I usually play with."
Nguyen is the younger brother of current Farmington Lady Scorpion tennis player Emily Nguyen, as well as 2015 FHS graduate Danielle Nguyen, who helped the Lady Scorps win back-to-back state championships from 2014-15.
Nguyen's body of work over the past year certainly warranted a selection. In early January, he competed in the Winter National Championships in Tucson as one of his age group's top 128 players in the country. Then, last month, he made it to the semifinals of the USTA's Southwest Junior Closed Tournament in Albuquerque.
Dan Kilen, a tennis coach in Arizona for 22 years, will coach one of the two teams next week. He saw Nguyen play in the event last year and even coached him at a Team USA camp in May, so he knows how good the young tennis player already is.
"I was very impressed with his progress from last year. He's just gotten a lot stronger, and his skill set's improved," Kilen said. "He's tiny in stature, but he stays very even keeled. He's a fighter."
Last spring, Nguyen spent a lot of time practicing with his dad, Linh, as well as FHS girls tennis coach Pat McGrath, who said Nguyen's enthusiasm for the game is evident.
"He likes practicing, he likes the competition and the big one is, he really just has a whole lot of fun playing," McGrath said.
The singles rankings for the Zonals Team Championships have yet to be decided, but both Kilen and Linh Nguyen believe Nguyen will be the No. 4 or No. 5 individual on his team.
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.