BYU tennis is no stranger to international athletes. This year, six of the 22 athletes on the team are from outside of the United States.
Both the men’s and women’s teams have three international students. The women’s team has one Australian and two Russians, and the men’s team has Taiwanese, Peruvian and Brazilian players.
“There is an agency in Russia that works with Russian athletes and schools in America,” Polina Malykh said. “Our last head coach (Lauren Jones-Spencer) reached out to the agency because I was working with them, found me and got me into a recruiting trip. I was here, and I loved it, obviously. And that was it,” Malykh said.
Anastasia Abramyan and Taylah Beckman expressed the same sentiment towards being at BYU.
“I love it. My freshman year was really fun. Everything was great,” Abramyan said.
Senior Jeffrey Hsu from Hsinchu, Taiwan, is a transfer student from the University of New Orleans. When BYU contacted Hsu, he said in his mind he thought, “Okay, it might be a good choice,” but didn’t realize at first how good of a choice he had made.
Just as Malykh and Hsu, BYU reached out to the other international students to play for the university.
BYU men’s tennis coach Brad Pearce said they look for and try to attract the best athletes from around the world who are also willing to live by the university’s unique standards.
“When we find those individuals, it’s a great blessing to the university and I think also to them and their families,” Pearce said.
Hsu said he has gained more confidence since transferring to BYU. His teammates have been supportive of him, and when he was newer to the area, they helped show him around. He said he feels comfortable and included.
“People, in general, are nicer to you,” Hsu said. “It doesn’t matter what race you are. Maybe it’s because of the church culture, but it’s really nice to be around people who will make you feel better, feel comfortable.”
Although first arriving at BYU can be a culture shock for these international athletes, each said they have had positive experiences.
“At first, obviously, it was a culture shock for all of us,” Beckman said. “I feel like being an international student you get treated so well, and it’s not like you get singled out or anything.”
Abramyan said the first two months were a struggle, but after that “it’s really worth it.”
The 2018-19 men’s tennis season is set to start on Sept. 20 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with the Milwaukee Tennis Classic. The women’s 2018-19 season will begin on Sept. 28 in Berkeley, California, with the Cal Berkeley Invite.