HAWAII GROWN: Unexpected opportunity for Huynh

'Iolani graduate Phuc Huynh hits a volley at the net during his match against Ryan Harrison during the Hawaii Open at the Neal Blaisdell Center. Photo by Darryl Oumi/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

Back home for the holiday break after his first semester of college, Phuc Huynh planned to get some work in on the tennis court.

Up until late Thursday afternoon, the ‘Iolani graduate had no idea his schedule would include a matchup with a member of the U.S. Davis Cup team under the lights in Blaisdell Arena.

“At first I was nervous, but it was exciting at the same time being here to play a guy in the top 60 in the world, it’s an unreal experience,” Huynh said after facing Ryan Harrison in the opening match of the Hawaii Open on Friday.

Huynh, the 2016 high school state champion and the runner-up last May, returned from the University of San Francisco last week and received the call inviting him into the Hawaii Open around 5 p.m. Thursday.

“At first I was in shock and didn’t know what to believe,” Huynh said.

He pounced on the opportunity to step in for Mackenzie McDonald, a late scratch from the event, and about 18 hours later was on the court opposite Harrison, who entered the week at No. 62 in the world, in a match broadcast on Tennis Channel.

“This is amazing. Who can say they got to play Ryan Harrison in front of their home crowd, in Blaisdell and on TV as well,” Huynh said.

“I texted most of my friends and a lot of my family was able to get a ticket and be able to come out here and watch me play.”

Harrison controlled throughout a 6-1, 6-1 win, but Huynh was able break Harrison’s serve in the first set.

“He served it out wide, stepped in and I cracked a backhand down the line, and that was a surreal moment. I couldn’t believe I made that,” Huynh said. “So it was pretty cool.”


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