Tennis is a sport that is both played and watched from all corners of the world. Just taking a look at the Weber State University men’s tennis team can prove that.
“It’s normal in tennis to have so many international players on the team,” said men’s tennis head coach Brad Ferreira. “It wouldn’t be normal in some of the other sports. Some of the other sports are more American-based. Tennis is such a worldwide sport at the moment. “
When recruiting, most U.S. high school tennis players have their minds made up on where they want to go before they graduate. These players typically gravitate towards larger schools when making their choice.
Smaller schools, such as Weber State, in order to compete with those larger schools, must look internationally. Out of the nine members of the men’s tennis team, five of them come from outside the United States.
“I had 16 scholarship offers around the United States,” said Jakub Gewert, a junior from Poland. “The things that drove me to Utah were playing high in the line up, a good scholarship and a great coach.”
Gewert also said that playing tennis in the United States costs less than in Poland, making it more accessible for players to get in the practice they need.
“In Poland, every hour you play on the tennis courts is $10 in the summer,” Gewert said. “People in Poland make around $3 an hour. You need to practice four or five hours every day, so it gets really expensive.”
For other players, playing at Weber State allows them to both continue their studies and continue to compete.
“After high school, I wanted to keep playing tennis,” said Hou-En Chen, a freshman from Taiwan. “Weber could give me a scholarship, could let me play tennis and let me study here in a different country like America.”
To scout these players, coaches start years in advance. Ferreira said that on average, he gets two or three emails a day from international players. A lot of the players that get recruited come from recruiting agents worldwide that Ferreira has connections with. It’s a huge networking system that depends a lot upon whom you know.
Shao-Po Yin from Taiwan said he found the Weber State men’s tennis team through an assistant coach on the women’s tennis team, as well as another friend he had on the men’s team. Gewert went to a tennis scout in Poland that knew coaches all over the United States. That scout eventually got him in contact with Ferreira.
In addition to having players from Poland and Taiwan, the men’s team also features freshman Stefan Cooper from England and junior Todd Fought from Canada. This diversity can also be found on the women’s tennis team as they have players from Poland, Canada, Australia and Indonesia.
The cultural diversity of the tennis team aids in making Weber State tennis a competitive collegiate team. At the same time, it also offers these international students an opportunity to further themselves academically.
The next home match for the women’s team is on March 1 when they host Portland State University while the next home match for the men’s team is on March 6 when they host Santa Clara University.