Tennis at The Q has helped Hung Pham and James Duff find themselves, all while building their friendship and confidence in the sport they both love.
Pham, 42, and Duff, 40, have been at The Q since exiting the prison transportation bus only months apart in 2018. I caught up with the two friends on the tennis court swinging their rackets in a two-on-two pick-up game and asked them why they love tennis.
TH: Hey guys, I see that you two seem to have a competitive edge for this game when you are playing. Tell me what makes this game so interesting to you and why you like playing it.
HP: I like playing tennis just for the sport of it. The activity of it. It not only helps to relieve stress, but it also helps with boosting my confidence, too.
JD: I was introduced to it by Hung. I have been playing ever since.
TH: Did you two know each other before you both started playing?
HP: No, we actually met each other here not even a year after being here. But, we’ve been playing tennis together ever since.
TH: Have you ever played tennis before whether it be in or outside of prison walls?
HP: I learned to play tennis in prison.
JD: This was my first time too. [It is also] the first time I ever seen tennis being played inside of prison, and [the first time I have seen] different races [being able to] actually play together and enjoy playing the sport with each other.
TH: SQ has its own tennis club here. Have you ever tried out for the team? And did you make it?
HP: Yes, I tried out for the team but I didn’t make it. I plan to try out this year though. Because playing tennis helps keep me out of trouble.
JD: I actually made the team last try outs. I look forward to all of the outside people that come in. We get to make some really good connections, along with all the other mental and physical benefits that come with it.
TH: Yeah, that true. How do you compare tennis with other self-help groups?
JD: Playing tennis allows me to meet guys that are not of Asian descent and are not in my age bracket and the surprisingly, the older guys are much more skilled then some of us younger guys. I like to learn from them.
TH: Do you guys have any special tennis players that are your favorites?
HP: Yes, I like Naomi Osaka. She’s my favorite one.
JD: My favorite player is Serena Williams. She’s fierce and she dominates the court when she plays. I like her too because she’s real