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Men’s tennis team example of diversity, unity

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By Julia Sayers

Four countries are represented on the Elon Men's Tennis Team, coached by Michael Leonard and Bob Owens. Philip Nemec is top row, fourth from left. Alberto Rojas is bottom row, second from left. Photo by Julia Sayers

The Elon University Men’s Tennis team has four international students, making it the most diverse team at Elon. The students come from all over the world, representing Columbia, Switzerland, Mexico and Canada.

Each student had a different recruiting experience. Philip Nemec, a senior from Alberta, found out about Elon while looking at tennis rankings for schools. He said he had a stressful experience since he signed on later than most.

“My process was stressful but once I got in contact with Coach Leonard he made it really easy,” Nemec said. “I looked at the website and he talked to me about the philosophy. It was an easy decision and I’m glad I made it.”

Nemec has been playing tennis since he was 6 years old.  He chose Elon because of the relationship he instantly formed with Coach Leonard.

“He met my criteria with what I was looking for in a coach and program,” Nemec said. “And Elon’s a great academic school.”

Alberto Rojas, also a senior tennis player, is from Atlatlahucan, Mexico. Rojas has played tennis for 14 years. He heard about Elon from a Wake Forest student whom he played professional tennis against. The student gave Rojas’ email to Coach Leonard.

“My recruiting process wasn’t that long or complicated,” said Rojas.  “I came to visit the school and had to sign my contract that week. I had like three choices and was looking at schools in California, Miami and North Carolina, but when I saw the campus and size of Elon it became my top choice.”

Playing on such a diverse team is a unique experience for all students.

“Everyone brings something different to the table. Just having people from different places gives us something to talk about at all times,” Nemec said.

Rojas says the most important thing is learning to play as a team.

“Tennis is a universal sport,” Rojas said. “When you’re playing, you’re always playing against foreigners. But playing with them is different.”

Both men have enjoyed their time at Elon. Rojas said that being an athlete makes the transition to college easier. Nemec didn’t know what to expect coming to college in the U.S. but said it has exceeded his criteria.

“It’s been so much fun,” Nemec said. Nothing’s going to trump this, ever.”

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Written by juliasayers

February 13, 2011 at 5:25 pm

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