There is a familiar face back in Pullman — Trang Huynh has returned to the Palouse.
Huynh was a member of the 2015-16 tennis team for her senior year of college after she transferred from Troy University to join the Cougars. The native of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, left WSU with degrees in psychology and biology.
Huynh said she left Alabama because she wanted to play in the Pac-12 and fell in love with the team, and being closer to home didn’t hurt either.
“I really wanted to compete in the Pac-12, one of the best conferences,” Huynh said. “I got to meet Lisa … and the team, and I came here to visit Pullman and I really fell in love with the atmosphere. My family lives in California so it’s [nice that] we’re closer to home. West Coast is the best coast … it feels like coming back home.”
Huynh let her mark during a short career for the Cougars. She may have only played one season at WSU, but it was quite the season. She ended the year with a 32-16 singles record, which is third-most singles wins in one season in WSU’s history.
Huynh would spend time at Northern Illinois University as a graduate assistant after leaving WSU. But when she heard from WSU tennis Head Coach Lisa Hart, she jumped at the opportunity to once again wear the crimson and gray.
“Working for Lisa, I cannot ask for a better boss,” Huynh said.
Hart said having Huynh as an athlete on her team made the decision to hire her easy.
“I had the privilege of coaching her,” Hart said. “When you have someone in your program you get to know them on a completely different level. As a student-athlete there’s lots of good times and hard times, and when you watch somebody go through hard times … or how they handle adversity you learn a lot about a person. So, I’ve always just admired the way Trang carries herself.”
Huynh said her time as a Cougar athlete will help give her an advantage in coaching now that she is back in Pullman.
“There is a lot of different perspective, but I really enjoy it,” Huynh said. “I’ve been through their shoes three years ago and now I feel that I have a lot of experience that I can transfer back to them”
Huynh said she is enjoying fitting in with the team. She even remembers senior Aneta Miksovska, who was a freshman during Huynh’s playing time. Another advantage which Huynh said will help relate her to the team is that Huynh was also born outside the U.S., and the entire 2018-19 roster is comprised of international students.
“It’s a great atmosphere — we have a great group of girls,” Huynh said. “Everybody is international so we have very different cultures, but everybody has been very nice and very hardworking, so I look forward for a great season.”
Huynh will now have to switch roles from being coached by Hart to coaching with Hart. Huynh said she is learning a lot and that Hart has been patient with her while she steps into her new role.
Hart said it is satisfying to have a player return as a coach.
“It’s kind of rewarding to see players come through your program and then be on the other side of it,” Hart said. “She brings a high-level of on-court knowledge … at the root of her coaching she is a teacher, and I think that the best coaches are teachers first.”
Huynh’s teacher-first mentality is spreading beyond just Cougar tennis, as the assistant coach will be teaching tennis courses for the university. This semester Huynh teaches two classes, one basic and one intermediate/advanced.
“I really enjoy it because it’s introducing the students to the game that I love,” Huynh said. “It’s great to see people enjoying tennis.”
Huynh and the rest of Cougar tennis have begun practicing while they await this season’s schedule to be finalized. However, you can watch them hit the courts Sept. 21-23 for the annual Cougar Classic tournament.