Heading into the CIF Southern Section boys’ individual tournament last week, Millikan’s Andy Nguyen didn’t get wrapped up in the pressure of being the top-seeded athlete at the event. Nguyen was driven to excellence knowing he was repping his school and his city as the only representative of Long Beach heading into the quarterfinals.
The junior finished the job on Friday defeating Campbell Hall’s Cassius Chinlund 6-3, 6-1 to claim the CIF-SS Boys Individual Tournament title to complete his undefeated season.
“There was a lot of pressure,” Nguyen said of being the only Long Beach athlete to reach the quarterfinals. “But it also fueled me more. I had a tough first set, but I felt like that was a wake up call, because I really didn’t want to end there. I was playing for more than myself and it really helped me improve my game.”
The junior found himself down early against Burbank’s Amrith Kodumuir losing the first set, 6-2 in their second-round match.
But Nguyen got back in a rhythm to defeat Kodumuir 2-6, 6-3, 10-7 to punch his ticket to the semifinals.
“I felt like this was impactful for more than just me,” Nguyen said. “It felt great, not just for me, but for my city and for my coach.”
In the semifinals, Nguyen picked up a 6-2 first set win against Peninsula’s Sean Ferguson, but after dealing with cramps he lost the second set 6-1.
Nguyen got back on track once again to defeat Ferguson 6-2, 1-6, 10-7 to push himself into the final four of the tournament.
The Millikan star showed why he was the top-seeded athlete in the tournament in the semifinals and finals by sweeping his opponents. In the semifinal, Nguyen defeated Villa Park’s Nathaniel Suh 6-2, 6-2.
After a grueling two years of dealing with COVID protocols, Nguyen said that keeping his mind ready was the biggest part of his success during the pandemic while there wasn’t a lot of tennis being played competitively.
While he couldn’t see his opponent as often as he might during non-pandemic times, Nguyen was able to keep his mechanics in order practicing with his dad thanks to a family friend who had access to private courts.
“During the beginning of COVID I took a break from tennis,” Nguyen said. “I didn’t train for about a month. Being able to use our family friends’ courts I wouldn’t say I improved but I did keep my skills intact.”
The biggest things that Nguyen had to work on during peak COVID restrictions was keeping up his mental strength.
“COVID affected mostly my mental game because being away from tournament play for so long,” Nguyen said. “I kind of forgot what it’s like to live the competitive scene, so that was probably the hardest part coming out of COVID.”
The break made it, so Nguyen was 100 percent sure about how the rest of his competition played and where they were and how good they were.
“Coming out of COVID, it was probably the worst performances of probably my whole career,” Nguyen said. “My mindset wasn’t there.”
Nguyen has gone on to have accomplished one of the most impressive seasons in local prep tennis after COVID, a run that has included two Moore League Singles titles, a CIF-SS team title and now an CIF-SS individual title.