Meet The Pros – Tiener-X Nguyen
Tiener-X Nguyen is an extreme strategist! I say this because he turned down chances to play in order to deeply study this game of pickleball before stepping onto the court. It is clear to me that he loves this “inclusive” game and he is in it to win it. Enjoy!
Can you list for us some of your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?
2017 State Games of Oklahoma (first tournament): Gold – Mixed Doubles 50+
Gold – Singles 50/55+, Silver- Doubles 50/55+
2017 USAPA West Regionals: Gold- Mixed Doubles 4.5 50+
2017 State Games of America: Gold- Singles 5.0 50+
Gold – Mixed Doubles 4.5 50+: Bronze- Doubles 4.5 35+
2017 OK Senior Games – Gold in three disciplines
2017 USAPA Nationals: Gold – Doubles 4.5 50+
Bronze- Mixed 4.5 50+, Bronze, Singles 5.0 50+
2018 State Games of Oklahoma: Gold-Singles 5.0
Gold- Mixed Doubles 5.0 50+, Silver- Doubles 5.0 50+
2018 Hawaii Senior Games – Gold in two disciplines
2018 USAPA Mountain Regional: Silver- Mixed Doubles 5.0 50-59
***All but two medals won in the Mixed division was with my wife, Moira Roush, as my partner***
What paddle do you play with and why?
I play with the Selkirk Pro S1G+; I like the overall feel and balance of the paddle. The paddle has been discontinued so I plan to upgrade to the newer AMPED models soon. I am a part of the Selkirk Team.
What is your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?
I first encountered pickleball during a TDY (temporary duty) near Surprise, AZ, in 2007. I saw from afar what appeared to be very small tennis courts. I returned that evening and saw how the game was played. It was enjoyed by both genders on the same court, young and old competing alongside and/or versus each other… camaraderie and “fun” filled the atmosphere. After watching for about an half hour, I pondered to myself what a great sport it was to give everyone across the spectrum an avenue to stay fit and still compete if desired. At the time, I didn’t lift a paddle or pursue pickleball any further.
In September 2016, I was exposed to pickleball again at a local gym through a friend’s invite. I watched and absorbed the game as I saw her play. I stayed a couple of hours to “let it dink in” (pardon the pun). I noticed how much fun as well as the “friendly competitiveness” everyone experienced. I did not partake, although I was asked. I did this two more times just to get a better understanding/knowledge of the game. On my fourth visit I participated and brought my own paddle, a wooden one.
I really enjoying playing sports, especially ones that hold my interest. I try to be a “student” of the game. A couple months later, I introduced pickleball to my wife. We’ve continued to play ever since.
What is your preference: playing indoors or outdoors?
I prefer outdoors where you have to learn to play the elements (sun, wind, shadows, etc). Those who can adjust their games better to the elements will normally come out ahead. In the Oklahoma City (OKC) area, there is only one outdoor place where everyone plays. It’s at Stephenson Park, where four pickleball courts are painted on one slightly dilapidated tennis court. There is a need for more outdoor courts in Oklahoma.
Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?
I like both, perhaps a slight edge toward singles, because in singles you “can’t not” stay focused during a point. When you do, you have given your opponent the advantage. In singles, I get to hit the ball every other hit.
I also enjoy doubles because everyone likes being a part of a team. I like setting up my partner as she/he knows when I have hit a better than average shot to gain a team advantage. When fatigue comes into play, doubles is a great alternative.
What is your favorite place to play? Why?
Little Valley Pickleball Complex in St. George, UT. It is a great 24-court outdoor facility with lights, benches, restrooms and shade pavilions. It is open to the public and FREE to play. If OKC had a place one-quarter the size of St. George’s, it would assist with the “obesity” problem. The staff & volunteers in St. George run a great Regional Tournament.
What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?
I don’t have one but may go to one in the future: two hands on both sides in kitchen exchanges. I had to change my tennis strokes by hitting two hands on both sides due to two elbow surgeries.
Tips: Concentrate more on the easy put-aways. It is the point you have earned and/or set your team up to win. Don’t be so nonchalant and lose focus when executing it. It’s the easy points that you/your team must win, not the difficult ones.
What is your day job?
I am a Telecommunications Engineer for Tinker Air Force Base. I am a civilian who has been on five deployments: Qatar, Djibouti, & Cuba. If I had known about pickleball back then, I would have made a valiant effort to introduce it to our men and women overseas. I plan to introduce pickleball to Tinker Air Force Base personnel this summer.
How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?
I play 8-10 hours per week; I would like to do more drilling but there are not enough courts, so play takes precedence. I play mostly after my work day is finished and on weekends. Most times my wife and I are together, whether it is to play or drill.
Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?
I like to eat duck feet. (Just kidding…making a Swedish joke). None.
Do you have any pickleball goals you would like to share?
I would like to play the top seniors in singles to see where I stand and what areas can improve. I got a chance to play a few at USAPA Nationals last year. Also, I would like to bring pickleball to other countries, especially Vietnam (my birth country). In Asian countries I have witnessed exercise regimes in the form of walking, badminton, Tai Chi, swimming, etc. I see where pickleball would be a great addition to their fitness routines.
I would like to venture into the “Have Net, Will Travel” pickleball lessons concept. Something along the lines of my wife and I driving to provide lessons to individual(s)/couples/families/peers. Yes, you can watch videos and read all you want, but most people are visual/hands-on oriented. With us being present, the learning potential would be much greater. Anything within a 7 hours’ drive would be considered.
Oh yeah, and I enjoy cooking!
Anything else you would like to share about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?
Pickleball has been the only sport where I have witnessed a great-great grandpa playing/competing with his great-great grandson… filled with smiles, being competitive and continuing to make life-long memories. I do have a “Barrel List” (like a Bucket List):
- Play on the same court with a person from each of the 50 States.
- Play a tournament in all 50 States
- Play in all 6 continents
I have “Sour Dills” (like pet/pickleball peeves): In pickup play, when an opposing team avoids hitting to the better player. This tells me 0-0-2 things:
(1) You would rather win versus improving your game… really… win a “pickup game”?
(2) You are preparing (for your upcoming tournament) to beat teams that are “inferior” than yours. Thus you need to work on that game strategy.
I plan to take advantage of free lessons and tips.