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Greenville Man Tries Tennis, Finds New Passion

October 20, 2013 04:00 PM

Jonathon Braden |

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. Phuc Dang started playing tennis only a couple years ago, but he’s already infatuated with the sport.

He plays at least four nights a week for about two and a half hours.

At his home near Greenville, S.C., he has about 15 racquets, a racquet-stringing machine and about 15 pairs of tennis shoes.

In fact, he apparently has too many shoes. During the USTA SC Combo Doubles League Championships on Saturday, Dang accidentally wore a different black-and-white Nike on his left foot than he did on his right.

“The beauty is,” said teammate Mike Mayberry, “he’s got another pair just like it at home.”

DSC_1079The Upper Piedmont Tennis Association team won the 65 and Over Level 6.5 Combo Championships on Saturday on Hilton Head Island.

Injuries from playing soccer led Dang (right), 66, to start playing tennis.

He had only seen people play tennis. He didn’t know how to grip a racquet, the proper way to swing or where to hit the ball when.

Through playing with friends, he soon learned the Western grip, how to lob and how to serve. Dang eventually joined USTA leagues to keep playing with others as well.

His teammates say he’s also the rare tennis player who’s always smiling. They never know how his matches are going because Dang always wears the same look.

“It’s refreshing to see someone so enthusiastic,” Mayberry said.

The combo championships continue on Hilton Head Island until Monday afternoon.