The USC men’s tennis team won its record-tying fourth consecutive NCAA national title in late May in Athens, Georgia. Senior Daniel Nguyen was one of two players who won the national title all four years they were in college. The team was the first college tennis team since Stanford’s 1995-98 teams to win four consecutive national championships and it finished 2012 with a 33-1 overall record. Pretty impressive, if you ask anyone.
Reign of Troy managed to steal Daniel Nguyen from his post grad travels for a minute to catch up on how he’s spending this summer. The 21-year old from Oxnard, California took off after graduation on a three-week vacation across Asia with one of his best friends. The trip included a hike up the Great Wall of China. After the trek, Nguyen decided that his hiatus from tennis was long enough, and he has been training to compete in professional tournaments across the United States.
Now that Nguyen has received his diploma in the mail, the reality of graduation has finally started to set in. His family was at the graduation ceremony to cheer him on to the last victory of his USC career.
“It was definitely a surreal moment walking across the stage at graduation. After four strenuous years of studying and finding parking, it finally hit me that I did it,” Nguyen exclaimed. “I could hear my older brothers cheering my name from across the tent.”
His four years were not spent in vain. Besides spending an unprecedented amount of hours practicing, Daniel selflessly dedicated many hours to the community too. “You know working with the community and being able to give back was priceless. Words cannot describe how great it was to see the smile on the kids we worked with,” said Nguyen.
Daniel made many friendships with the other athletes on campus during his time at USC. “It was great meeting all the other athletes at USC. One of the memories most special to me was playing a doubles match with Khaled Holmes against Matt Barkley and my teammate, Steve Johnson,” Nguyen recalls. “During the tennis match Khaled and I won a grueling point against Matt and Steve. We both decide to celebrate and jump into the air for a chest pump. This was a bad idea since Khaled is a 6’4” offensive lineman that weighs around 300 pounds and I’m 5’8” weighing in around 155 pounds,” Nguyen asserted. “As soon as Khaled’s chest bumped into my chest I flew about 10 feet in the air. Both Matt and Steve had a chuckle and it was a funny moment I will remember forever.”
One thing all athletes have in common is the drive to pursue first place. No one puts in the extra effort for second place and what comes with the ultimate victory? The jewelry! “All four rings have a special meaning to me. But if I had to pick one, then the fourth ring means the most,” said Nguyen. “Since it was my senior year I wanted to leave on a strong note, my last year of college and go out with a bang.”
Nguyen left his mark at USC in many positive ways. “Just being put in that category is humbling in itself. It’s inspiring to see my teammates and coach hungry day in and day out. Being part of USC’s legacy is definitely an honor and something I will cherish,” he says of being a four-time national champion. “Stay focused, hungry, and humble. Share your passion with other individuals because it will bring out the best in you and those around you. Fight on forever!”