The University of Arizona women's tennis team hosted four high school players from Japan last Thursday as they were invited to practice and compete with the Arizona team.
Head coach Ryan Stotland played tennis at the University of New Mexico where he met Takeshi Itoh, the head coach for Team Japan. Together they organized a scrimmage-like tournament for the Arizona team to get some extra practice in before conference play. But this little get-together was more than just a scrimmage for Team Japan; it was an experience of a lifetime.
“The facilities are great. We don’t find anything like this in Japan," coach Itoh said. "We came last year here too, and I was amazed and wanted to come back to see it again and take these Japanese high school players here so they can have an idea of how a big school in the U.S. is."
The support and opportunity for Arizona women's tennis is unmatched. The Lanelle Robson Tennis Center has a multitude of courts with comfortable and shaded bleachers for fans, making sports much more accessible than in Japan, according to Itoh. Itoh reiterated that the support for Japanese athletics is far different than that in the United States.
"We don’t have facilities like this. They don’t spend money on sports, so students are paying for both school and sports," Itoh said. "The courts aren’t nice like this with bleachers for people to come to watch. Nobody comes to watch matches."
In regards to playing tennis with appreciation, Arizona women’s tennis will start back up next weekend as they play North Texas, NAU and Kansas State with the hope of picking up some solid wins to help them progress into playing in post-season tournaments.
“Every match is a huge deal," Stotland said. "We just have to play every match one match at a time. We have a huge match coming up next weekend against two teams we lost to last year, so we need to show our improvement and get some wins.”
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