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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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SB City College serves up tennis players from all around the world

Desiree Erdmann
From left, international City College men’s tennis players Kyosuke Kiuchi from Saitama, Japan, Alexander Martin from Adelaide, Australia, and Pierre Fumat from Nouméa, New Caledonia, France make up three of the seven international male tennis players on Wed, Feb 26, 2020 before practicing at Pershing Park tennis courts in Santa Barbara, Calif. Kiuchi, Martin and Fumat feel connected through their love for tennis and chose to play tennis in Santa Barbara for the weather.

From the snowy hills of Denmark to the blue waters of the South Pacific, members of the men’s tennis team have come from all over the world to experience what City College has to offer.

At a time when enrollment is dropping school-wide and tuition is rising for international students, the tennis team remains as diverse as ever with members from five different continents.

Head coach Nathan Jackmon said that the diversity is beneficial to the team both on and off the court.

“They have experienced other cultures and speak multiple languages,” Jackmon said.

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He explained that he believes the exposure to other cultures is beneficial to the American-born students, who typically are not as well-traveled. He also said that a heavily international team can help in the win column.

“Tennis is a bigger sport in other countries,” Jackmon said. “[Foreign players] often come a little more advanced at the same age.”

Kyosuke Kiuchi, who hails from Saitama, Japan, is an example of both benefits that Jackmon outlined. Though he’s only a freshman, Kiuchi said that he already has a decade of tennis experience under his belt. He has played in Canada and New Zealand along with his home country, and he said that those experiences inspired him to go to school in the United States.

When asked why he came to Santa Barbara in particular, he expressed a sentiment that nearly every international player echoed.

“There is very good weather,” Kiuchi said.

With the pleasant climate and view of the ocean, most students said the location of the school was a main draw over other American colleges.

“Santa Barbara is Santa Barbara,” said Belgian sophomore Arthur Scharff, gesturing upwards at a cloudless blue sky.

Scharff also cited City College’s high rankings on some online sites as a reason he came.

“[City College] is the best college in the U.S.,” he said.

Pierre Fumat, a sophomore from Noumeá, New Caledonia, also mentioned the number one ranking. He said that it prompted him to choose the school over other options in Florida and on the East Coast.

Because New Caledonia, a French territory north of Australia, is so small, Fumat said he felt like he had to leave to expand his tennis horizons. 

“If I stayed in my country it was very limited,” he said. “There are not a lot of players.”

Alexander Martin from Australia and Saad Alami from Morocco both said that they came to America because of how much the U.S. values college athletics.

“I started to enjoy the team aspect,” Martin said. “Here it is more than just individual tournaments.”

In Australia and other parts of the world, there is more of an emphasis on solo tennis and university teams are hard to come by.

“In Morocco we don’t have school with sports,” Alami said. “There is a priority to sports in the U.S.”

While most of the comments made about tennis in America were positive, Scharff had one important complaint.

“People cheat more easily here,” he said. “There are two to three cheating calls per game.”

He explained that if a call is questioned in Belgium the players replay the point, but in America the call of the player on the ball’s side of the net is final.

Athletic Director Rocco Constantino said the athletic department has to strike a balance between serving the local community and international students, but the latter are very important.

“Having that diversity always really helps,” he said. “You learn about different cultures, and you learn how to work with people who have different views than you.” 

Constantino said many teams need foreign students to maintain their roster size and quality of play.

“We rely on [international students] a lot,” he said. “I’d say we rely on that mix, and I think that goes for our school too.”

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