Five-time national tennis champion Tran Duc Quynh and his coaching staff are beginning to reap the benefits of seven years of hard work, at the Binh Duong-sponsored tennis academy.

The academy, which aims to prepare players for fierce competition on the ATP tour, and one of its most talented students, Ly Hoang Nam, have enjoyed a steady rise to prominence during the past year.

Nam became the youngest player in Vietnam's history to snag a national tennis title after beating Pham Minh Tuan in the final last year. Two months ago, he made history again by becoming the first Vietnamese to win a gold medal in the boys' singles division at the Asian Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China.

The teenager's winning streak has since continued - only last week, he won the national title for a second time, overcoming Nguyen Hoang Thien 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 in the final.

It is fitting that Quynh, a pioneer of Vietnamese tennis talent in the 1990's with five national titles, is now steering the success of the country's up and coming tennis stars.

With his love for tennis starting at the tender age of seven, he vowed to help the younger generation of tennis players compete on the world stage after his retirement.

The year 2006 proved a decisive turning point in Quynh's tennis coaching career, with Binh Duong making the bold decision to replace their academy head coach with Quynh.

Grabbing the chance to fulfill his post-retirement dream, Quynh threw himself into the job, bringing with him a wealth of professional experience and knowledge of newer methods into his training. "I train boys and girls not only to develop skills on court, but I also ask them to do their best in academic subjects," he said.

"It was a big mistake to focus on skills and make light of other factors. Because a match can be in many times decided by the calmness and composure in handling balls, not only by skills themselves," he explained, adding: "Besides, discipline and passion must be in the mind of every player."
Quynh is strict in transferring technique to players, but encourages his players to develop their own unique style.

"Quynh only teaches players techniques and leaves players to play their own way," Nam said. This philosophy seemed evident in Nam's distinct on court style; both calm and resilient in his two recent final wins, over Mendoza Zosmimo and Thien.

The 38-year-old is optimistic that Vietnam can produce tennis players to play on the ATP tour. "If we want to have world-class players, we have to work towards that goal," the Binh Duong-based coach said.

Quynh and his coaching staff are currently in hot pursuit of that goal, training dozens of boys and girls to make their dreams a reality.-VNA