Freshman Katelyn Nguyen demonstrated her true talent this tennis season. (Photo by Elsa Ly)

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Freshmen of Fountain Valley: Katelyn Nguyen

Katelyn Nguyen said her most memorable moment while playing for the Fountain Valley High School tennis team was the connection with her teammates.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/duonganneliese/" target="_self">Anneliese Duong</a>

Anneliese Duong

December 16, 2021
In a small tournament in Irvine, freshman Katelyn Nguyen received her first finalist trophy. The experience was unforgettable and the competitive drive motivated her to return to the courts.

“Not knowing what I can achieve and then actually coming home with a finalist trophy gave me so much joy and motivation to keep training weekly to gain back that feeling again,” Nguyen said. “The pleasure of meeting new people and making goals for myself in those matches filled me with contentment and pride knowing I had more opportunities to fulfill my dream.”

Nguyen scored her way to the girls’ varsity tennis team through years of experience and passion. She has been playing since first grade and it all started as a small hobby. Securing one of the top spots on a team is no easy feat as it requires an immense amount of dedication. Expectations are higher at a varsity level and match wins matter more. For Nguyen, her dad sparked the flame.

“My dad used to bring me out to Mile Square Park every Wednesday,” Nguyen said. “I started to play more and more every single week.”

Since then, she involves herself in academies and plays competitively in tournaments that are local or two to three hours away every month.

Her first notable title was achieved at the age of 10 when she won a 12s and under tournament, which is a level 7.

“[The tournament] helped my drive and motivation to keep playing alive,” she said. “That feeling of satisfaction and the shiny trophy sitting on my shelf is unforgettable.”

Years later, her greatest achievement in tennis is her recent victory in a Level 5 tournament, which is known for having top-ranked players.

“I was super excited because I had my family and friends all come to watch me play my finals,” Nguyen said.

Without a doubt, her talents have been recognized by head coach Harshul Patel, who scouted her during summer camp.

“We lost three singles players after last year’s history-making season,” Patel said. “Katelyn has been an asset for our team [by winning] most of the singles matches.”

Despite the team being loaded with upperclassmen, her teammates noted her positive personality that helped her blend in easily from day one.

“Katelyn has contributed to the team not only by being a talented player, but by being an encouraging and caring teammate. I would describe her as someone who could never fail to cheer you up,” senior captain Emily Tran said. “She knows how to motivate both herself and her teammates.”

Many of Nguyen’s gratitude goes back to her dad who devoted time to train her and ensure that she continues to grow and stay optimistic. He brought her to be the person she is.

“My dad has always been my biggest role model on and off the court,” she said. “Getting off of work early to take me to play tennis at Mile Square Park for at least an hour a day is an experience that leaves me with gratitude I can never fully pay back.”

In spending around 12 hours a week, her most memorable moment while playing for the Fountain Valley High School tennis team was simply the connection and social interaction with everyone.

“It’s usually after games, the whole team would hang out and it would be a really fun occasion and tradition that we do throughout the whole season,” Nguyen said.

As one of the only freshmen on the team, it is intimidating but Nguyen identifies it as a spot worthy of improvement and recognition.

“I am definitely grateful to have been given a chance to play amongst amazing players I won’t forget about for years to come,” she said. “I certainly doubted my chances of making new relationships — knowing so little people involved in tennis at FVHS — but all those feelings went away when I realized the loving aspect of being their teammate.”

Despite having big shoes to fill, Nguyen proved herself valuable to the girls’ varsity tennis team through every shot, the moment she steps on the court.

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