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Huang eager to visit plethora of destinations

World Traveler by Tony Burns | May 24, 2023 at 12:00 a.m.
El Dorado's Wenhua Huang is a finalist for El Dorado News-Times Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He played tennis, advancing to the 5A State Tournament and graduated with a 4.24 grade point average.

It’s a big world out there outside of El Dorado. And, Wenhua Huang plans to see as much of it as he can.

The only member of El Dorado’s tennis team to advance to the 5A State Tournament, Huang is a finalist for El Dorado News-Times Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He graduated with a 4.24 grade point average and plans to attend Louisiana Tech.

Huang said he will study Professional Aviation with a minor in Business. His plan is to become a commercial pilot.

“I want to travel the world. I feel like I can meet new people, experience new cultures and I’ll have a higher opportunity to go to places,” said Huang, who was asked if he’s sat in the cockpit in the friendly skies.

“I have no experience right now, but I have been accepted into their aviation program.”

Born in China, Huang moved to El Dorado just before the age of four. He speaks Cantonese and took a year off to learn English before he started school.

“I will be the first person to go to college in my family,” said Huang, who said setting a milestone for the family wasn’t his primary focus.

“Just being successful and being able to help my family is better than the idea of being the first. I just want to be able to support my family because they’ve done a lot for me. I just want to give back.”

His inspiration is his father.

“He came here by himself. He didn’t know any English and he started working. He’s a big inspiration.”

Huang didn’t begin playing tennis until his ninth grade year. Growing up, he said he wasn’t really into sports.

“Coming from an Asian household, the main focus is academics. I spent a lot of my time just being really good at school subjects instead of athletic activities,” he said. “I wanted to play football like the other kids. I wanted to play soccer. But I decided to stick with academics because I was pretty good at it.”

Any encouragement from his parents to try sports?

“It was a bit of discouragement because they feared I would get hurt in football because it’s a contact sport,” he explained. “They were like, you should use your brain so you can be good at academic stuff and make money and be successful.”

Huang credited friends with finally getting a racquet in his hand, at least, initially.

“At first it was because my friends wanted to play. But then I fell in love with the sport. After they quit, I just decided to stick with it. I just fell in love with the sport - the competitiveness. It’s just very satisfying hitting a ball over and over again. I don’t know, it’s just an activity that helps me relax at this point.”

Huang admitted he’s one of those people who can hit a tennis ball against a wall for hours and never lose interest. 

“The first time I played, the whole summer I played five hours a day on a ball machine because nobody else would be out there with me that long,” said Huang, who said growing up in a town with little tennis activity made him appreciate finding the wall to hit with him.

“It’s super hard to find somebody to hit with here. I’ve had to drive to SAU to hit with some of the players there. Go to PC, there’s a few players there.”

Starting so late, Huang said he had to play catch-up on the court just to be competitive. He played doubles as a junior before blossoming in singles last season. He won third place in the 5A South Tournament before losing in the first round of state 6-4, 6-3.

For Huang, just qualifying for state was a big deal. 

“It was a good point in my life. It was only this year when I realized I had the opportunity to make it to state. I was training really hard the summer of junior year just to have the opportunity,” he said. Still, the final loss stung.

“It was really disappointing because I had my teammates go up there. That’s probably what hurt me more than the match result, just having them drive so far and then me losing that match. That probably hurt the most.”

Looking back, he said he wished he’d taken up the sport earlier.

“I tried tennis kind of early but then I quit. I played for a month when I was 10. I quit afterwards and I don’t remember why. That’s a big regret for me. I feel if I had just two more years, I could make it a lot further.”

Zero regrets, however, about not playing football.

“No. I like my brain and my body. It’s barely functioning right now so I’m kind of thankful my mom told me not to do football.”

As for academics, biology is Huang’s passion.

“For a lot of my life I wanted to be something that had something to do with biology. I took all the biology classes. But I realized I’d be in one place if I chose a career in biology.”

Huang said he toyed with the notion of becoming a pathologist.

“But that requires a lot of staying in one place and I’m not a big fan of that.”

He zoned in on becoming a pilot about two years ago. Flying a plane has nothing to do with biology but is more about math and physics - aerodynamics.

“Mainly it was just the idea of … freedom. I don’t like working a 9-to-5. I like to be free so I can’t be in one place. That kind of got me into thinking of becoming a pilot.

“La Tech is close to home. They’ve had their aviation program for the last 55 years. So they’re pretty experienced.”

Asked to expound on his idea of freedom, Huang explained, “We only have so much time in our lives. I want to be able to see all that I can. I feel like the world has a lot to offer. I want to see the different cultures and the people and how everything works.”

He got the traveling itch from his parents. 

“Every summer, me and my family go to different places because my parents want us to see different places and ideas so we can be more open minded to different people and cultures.”

Huang said he’s been to China twice, Canada, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.

“I really want to go to European countries. I like nature a lot and I like scenery. I find it just beautiful.”

As far as the aviation thing, Huang is comfortable with that choice. Of course, he wouldn’t nail himself down to that as his only option.

“If I find a different path I enjoy more, I’m for sure going to take it. If I’m going to go into a career, I’d better like it because I’m going to be doing it for a while.”


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