Tennis isn’t trending in the mainstream like all the other Hmong sports during the 4th of July tournament, in spite of this, I assure you that tennis isn’t to be taken lightly because of the growing popularity amongst the Hmong youth.
I set forth to continue my journey for the one on one, then realizing that my wife’s uncle, Stanley Lee, is one of the leading contenders for the seat of champion in this sport. With a quick shuffle of the rolodex, I made contact with Stanley Lee, furthermore using my networking skills (which I don’t really have much talent for) to acquire information directing me to the event organizer.
I’ve heard of tennis, in addition to seeing it on television, but this domain is still incredibly unfamiliar to me. Therefore, I set forth along with my handy dandy notebook to investigate and undertake this new task: to gain knowledge about the sport tennis.
In this interrogation you will learn a little more about the game of tennis, as well as learning some insightful information from this year’s organizer, Koua Yang.
Hmoodle: How long have you been playing the game and what promoted you to be so dedicated in the sport?
Koua: I’ve been playing tennis for well over ten years. It’s a wonderful sport that anyone can pick up and play for a lifetime. I’ve seen eighty to ninety year olds still playing at the clubs. My students that I coach inspire me to be a better player, coach, and person. I remember myself at their age and the competitive hunger they have to learn more about the sport.
Hmoodle: How many competitors will you be drawing this year to your tournament?
Koua: I will have about eighty participants or more. There will be about forty in the junior tournament and probably the same numbers for the open division. I hope to see more participants in the junior girls division this year.
Hmoodle: This is a more sensitive subject, but why do you organize your own event when knowingly the Lao Family organization is also promoting their own event that’s similar to yours, plus on the same time period?
Koua: My tournament was organized at Arlington for several reasons. First, there are only four courts at the Lao Family Tournament. It makes it very difficult to organize matches for two divisions (junior and open). We have access to seven courts at Arlington High School; two at North Dale Recreation Center, and four at Como Park High School (13 in all). In addition, the courts at the Lao Family Tourney are in horrible condition with cracks all over the four courts. Secondly, one of the tournament’s purposes is to develop and introduce the younger players to tournament competition. The majority of the young players have never participated in a tournament. By the way, the junior tournament is free for boys and girls under 19 years old. Finally, the tournament was organized at the same time because we believe the July 4th Tournament is about getting people together and having fun and not about making a profit.
Hmoodle: It must be very tough coordinating this event for these 2 days, how do you do it?
Koua: We have plenty of courts and people to coordinate the effort. It’s a great time!
Hmoodle: How do you prepare yourself for the tournament as it is arising soon?
Koua: I play year round, so the homework has been done. It’s a matter of executing in the tournament.
Hmoodle: Where do you see the sport going as a whole, in the Hmong community, in the future?
Koua: I personally believe the sport will overtake the more traditional sports like soccer and volleyball with the new generation of kids. I’ve seen it change from a coach’s perspective already in Minnesota. I have heard similar trends in California. It’s a lifetime sport unlike some other sports.
Hmoodle: I know this sport takes a lot of endurance and stamina, I for one cannot take the beating of running from one corner of the court to the other, How do you do it?
Koua: I was in wrestling in high school and college, so conditioning is not a factor.
Hmoodle: How long has this sport been existence with the 4th of July tournament?
Koua: I don’t access to the records, but it has been in existence since the eighties.
Hmoodle: If the Hmong youth out there were interested in getting into the sport, is there any youth outreach programs that you know of that can assist or help them get started in the game: training, learning the game, and all the other criteria of the game? The reason why I’m asking is because there are prevention programs out there that give assistance to the youth for basketball; where there are instructors and a facility to use to prevent these kids from doing something bad on the streets?
Koua: I totally agree, giving kids another reason to be successful is a key to their development in life. The St. Paul Urban Tennis Program is probably the best program I have seen across the nation. It is a six week program with lessons every weekday. It introduces the game to kids ranging from ages 5-18 years old. Everyone can afford it! Most of my players are on partial or full scholarship.
Hmoodle: Never playing the game before could you briefly give us a starter course on how points are calculated in the game?
Koua: Basically, you have to win four points in a game: 15, 30, 40, game; unless it’s tied 40/40 then, you have to win two points in a row. Matches are two out of three sets and each set, a player has to earn 6 games by two to win the set.
Hmoodle: I heard you mentioned earlier that there are a lot of aspects in the mental part of the game; could you elaborate on that subject?
Koua: Tennis is a mental and physical chess match. You have to focus on every shot to hit the ball where you want it. There are many strategies to the game, which will probably take me several days to explain.
Hmoodle: Do you have any questions for me or the other staff members at Hmoodle.com?
Koua: Will you have links to other sports and informational websites? Here’s the website to St. Paul Urban Tennis: www.stpaulurbantennis.org
We will have links to other informational websites that ties in relations to the sports or subject that we’re highlighting. If you haven’t had the chance to explore the website, it’s more of an informational site at this time frame, but we’ll definitely enhance this site ongoing in the future. Plus, a lot of people concentrate on just one area of the sport section, so if you have a chance, try a more thorough look through the site and you might find certain category that you didn’t expect to see, while some are still in the works. Hopefully, that answers your question.
Hmoodle: In closing would you like to give any shout out to the Hmong community or maybe just words of advice?
Koua: This is a fantastic venue for the Hmong Community. Other ethnics groups certainly don’t have anything like it and have decided to participate at the Hmong Tournament. The 4th of July Tournament is not just an athletic event, but a chance to reacquaint with friends and families from all over the nation. It’s a fantastic tradition that I hope will continue to bind us together! Lastly, I would like to encourage the females to come out in force and play in as many sports as possible at the 4th of July Tournament. We have been fortunate to have a very talented Hmong girl, Anna Yang, participate and win at the tennis tournament (open division). We certainly want to recognize Anna as a pioneer in the sport of tennis. See you on the athletic fields and courts!
Like a vestigial organ; this is a vestigial sport in the Hmong community. Let me elaborate on what I’m trying to convey with this message. You hear about tennis, however very few spectators are in attendance during the 4th of July tournament. Although, tennis is a highlighted sport during the grand Hmong tournament it doesn’t really make an impact because of the minuscule turnout. My suggestion to mend this dilemma is to contribute and promote the sport by attending to these sporting events. By doing this you give these athletes an audience to showcase their talent, which ultimately encourages their morale building self-confidence along with enjoyment. If you’ve ever been in a game whether it’d be physically, mentally or both; you know the power of the chants and cheers. So, go out there to support these fine sport entertainers! If you’d like more information on location to attend, please contact me at [email protected] or view our informational sight for locations to these events.
To conclude this, I would like to thank Mr. Stanley Lee for providing me with contact information that led me to Koua Yang. In addition to this, I am greatly impressed by this gentleman who dedicates his spare time to help out the Hmong youths in our community. Observing his demeanor, as well as, the way he represents himself gave me hope for the future of our people, seeing that we truly have a visionary and a mentor that stakes beyond just himself. I see his unselfishness, in addition to his passion in giving to our community and I know that you’ll be hearing more about Mr. Koua Yang in the future. Also, I would like thank Song Thao and Her Yang Lo for participating in our photo shoot in our initial meeting with Koua Yang. I know that you guys are the pioneers in the sport within our Hmong community, whether it is 1st generation or 2nd generation players. So guys, thank you and much appreciated.
Should anyone out there like a one on one or group on one, please don’t hesitate to e-mail me at [email protected]?
Furthermore, should you have in question in relations to attending or just information about this event, please contact Koua at [email protected]?
Information on Event:
When: Registrations 8-9am @ Arlington High School, July 5th and 6th
Where: Arlington High School, Como High School & Northdale Park
1. Juniors: boys & girls – free
2. Open – $50
1: 60% of participants funding in entrance fee.
Can anyone register now: Yes or no – day of event-last minute>Yes
Who to contact: Koua Yang – e-mail: [email protected]