Tennis, by all accounts, is a global sport.
After all, the top eight professional players ranked by the Association of Tennis Players come from different countries.
It should come as no surprise, then, that no player on the IU Men’s Tennis team lives within 400 miles of Bloomington.
“That’s really the way the world is going to progress,” IU coach Randy Bloemendaal said. “We’re all going to have to work together on certain things.”
Bloemendaal said it’s nice to have so much diversity among players on a small team.
“It is kind of a neat thing,” he said. “It’s something I’ve always enjoyed – the relationships with different cultures, with different parts of the world. I think it’s a great learning experience. It’s such a great learning tool, especially in a university environment.”
Seven of the 10 players on the roster are from outside the United States. The three that did go to high school in the U.S. – Stephen Vogl (Rye County Day School, Conn.), Will Kendall (Millburn, N.J.) and Tommy Aliber (Pembroke Hill, Mo.) – are also somewhat culturally diverse.
Everyone brings something different to the team, and each player provides his own perspective on certain situations.
“A lot of the local guys, when they come on the team, they say, ‘Coach, wow, I really enjoyed such and such from this part of the world,’ and ‘I had no idea about it,’”
Bloemendaal said. “So we have ambassadors from all over, which is really neat.”
Lachlan Ferguson, a junior from Adelaide, Australia, said he learned a lot about tennis by taking trips before coming to college.
“I spent three or four years traveling before I got here, and I played in a lot of different countries,” Ferguson said. “I met a lot of people, and it was kind of nice coming here and meeting more people from a lot of countries that I’d been to in the past. Hopefully, we stay in contact for a long time and keep playing. It’s been a lot of fun.”
The diverse roster also means the coaching staff looks long and hard at all the tennis talent around the world before it offers scholarships.
Bloemendaal and assistant coach Scott Linn scour the online rankings and do what they can to make a pitch to players that best fits their program.
With this year’s freshman class, the coaches said they think they have found what they are looking for.
Isade Juneau of Quebec, Josh MacTaggart of the United Kingdom, Alex van Gils of Germany and Aliber have worked hard to prepare for the 2009-10 season.
Bloemendaal said they are willing to compete for every opportunity.
“All four freshmen have great attitudes,” he said. “A couple of them have really come in and started doing things at a higher level than other freshmen in the past.
“Whether it be the strength and conditioning or being more organized, they just seem more mature, more ready to go. It looks like a real good group of guys.”