Tennis Industry magazine


An international flavor

A longtime observer of junior and college tennis says limiting foreign players at U.S. colleges is a bad idea.

By Colette Lewis

Jay Cunningham of Edmond, Okla., a red-shirt sophomore on the University of Tulsa’s tennis team, has a résumé typical of many top American juniors. He won the Oklahoma state high school singles title twice, topped his section’s 16s ranking, and was recruited by several high-profile Division 1 programs. Deciding to stay near home, he joined a team with six foreign players and two other Oklahoma juniors. From his perspective, the current outrage over foreigners in the collegiate game is difficult to comprehend.

“Having the foreign players levels the playing field,” says Cunningham, 21. “The bigger schools, the Stanfords, the UCLAs, they can get top Americans, but for schools like us, it helps us to get good foreigners to come in and see our program and facility, and they’ll come to Oklahoma.”

Cunningham touches on just one of the many ways the influx of foreign players has created a sea change in college tennis. Like Tulsa, many college teams have more international players than Americans, resulting in calls for scholarship limits and quotas. But here are a few reasons affirmative action for U.S. juniors is a bad idea:

“If we tackle this well, hopefully those foreign guys at your locale are helping your kid get better,” Wright says. “Instead of saying, ‘Damn foreigners, I hate these guys’, you’re saying, ‘Hey, that guy’s from Serbia and he’s hitting with my kid, playing sets with him on weekends.’”

The U.S. should be proud of the reputation of its higher education system. If we are truly committed to excellence, we have nothing to fear from competition — we recognize that it makes us better. Our ideals, admittedly not always achieved, remain dedicated to equal opportunity. Protecting college tennis from those outside the U.S. simply doesn’t fit that framework.

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About the Author

Colette Lewis is freelance tennis writer who has covered topflight college and junior events for The Tennis Channel, Smash Magazine, Tennis Magazine, and The Tennis Recruiting Network. She serves as editor of the USTA Boys 18s & 16s National Championships' website in her hometown of Kalamazoo, and maintains a website devoted to college and junior tennis --



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