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Le Finds Comfort In Teammates, Tennis

October 28, 2011 08:29 PM
Luat Le from USTA Pacific Northwest thrives on the court despite his father's illness back home in Washington.
By Trina Singian, special to USTA.com

SURPRISE, Ariz. -
This weekend’s USTA Jr. Team Tennis National Championship has been a time of fun, friends, and needed comfort for Luat Le of Bellevue, Wash. His Pacific Northwest Advanced team, Marymoor Magic, have continually provided great support in areas beyond the baseline and above the net.

Le was introduced to tennis by his father, Danh, at the age of four. Luat’s first tennis coach and role model, Danh’s love for the game was passed down to his older brother, Angel, and younger sister, Sky, as well. Tennis serves as a common bond between members of the Le family. In addition to playing Jr. Team Tennis, Le plays the no. 1 spot on the boys’ team at Interlake High School and is a regular tournament player.

Three years ago, Luat received devastating news that his father was diagnosed with Adenoid cystic cancer, a rare type of malignancy which invades the salivary glands. The Le family is very tight-knit and has stayed strong during this tough time. Due to Danh’s treatments and radiation, there has been less time on the courts but more time at home. Nevertheless, tennis has been a great stress relief.

"It helps me take my mind off of things," said Le. "If it weren’t for tennis, there would be a lot of stress I would have to deal with. Tennis helps me get away from things."

Danh remains his son’s strongest supporter and goes to most of Luat’s tournaments. He was planning to come to this weekend’s national championships, eventually cancelling due to health struggles.

His father’s perseverance has impacted him and the person Luat is today.

"My father has taught me perseverance, working hard and fighting - he has to fight for his life every day."

Luat’s Marymoor Magic mates serve as a great support system for the Le family. The team was formed by Jim Uyesugi, Executive Director of the Northwest Sports Foundation in Kirkland, Wash. Jim brought Luat into the team and has been also overseen his tennis journey since the age of four.

"(Luat) has always been the sweetest kid - you just got to love this kid," said Uyesugi. "When I started the Jr. Team Tennis program, it was obvious that he was one of the kids I would really want on the team because he would be a great character example of what we want for Jr. Team Tennis.

"When I heard about his dad being sick, I knew how much something like this would help him to think about something else, go out and enjoy himself with his friends."

Today, Luat played in his first National Championships match in mixed doubles with teammate, Isabel Long. As you watch Luat encourage and motivate his teammate, you can see how extraordinary of a teenager he is and that his father’s positive qualities shine through him.

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