From all around the globe, nine men's tennis players find a new home at ASU

Thousands of miles from home, international players have found a family in each other

The ASU men’s tennis team is one of the most internationally diverse teams on campus, boasting a nine-man roster with each player hailing from nine separate home countries.

When head coach Matt Hill set forth to reestablish the men’s team, he had to travel around the world because American athletes sign and commit to schools early during their high school career. So, Hill was left to travel around the globe in order to fill his roster. 

“Obviously, we’ve been all over in the last 18 months,” Hill said describing his experience recruiting. “So, it took a lot of travel to put a team like this together, but it’s going well.” 

A majority of the men's tennis players have been on the road for many years because of their tennis schedules back home. However, this has helped in their college transition because leaving their families was not much of a change. 

“A lot of them are really close with their families, but a lot of them have been travelling around the world for years, so this isn’t new to them being on the road and away from their families,” Hill said.

Since putting their roots down in Tempe to play at ASU, the team has found a new family in each other. 

“From the first moment I came here, we directly connected," said captain, lone senior and Belgium native Michael Geerts. "You can really see it in our matches. We are a very close team. We fight for each other out there. Being surrounded by such a great team, it makes it easier to come here far away from home.” 

Geerts believes that the diverse backgrounds of the players are a reason why they get along with each other so well and why they manage to “live with each other 24/7.”

Freshman Benjamin Hannestad, originally from Denmark, has been away from home for a few years now and is grateful for the team Hill put together. 

“Being able to joke around as much as we do (is my favorite thing about the team)," Hannestad said. "We are having a great time together. We love each other."

With a close-knit team, it was not too much of a challenge for the players to adapt to life in Tempe.

"The tennis court still has the same measurements, still looks the same as Belgium,” Geerts said. “Overall, the American lifestyle is very positive, especially towards athletes. We get treated very well here at ASU.”

Being from all around Europe, the extreme Arizona heat was one of the harder obstacles Geerts had to overcome. However, the weather during the rest of the year was a major benefit for the players.  

Hannestad credits the weather as one of his favorite things about ASU. 

“I don’t miss home. It’s cold and grey and it's freezing,” Hannestad said. “I like the heat. That’s one of the reasons why I am here.”

Hill believes the diversity his Sun Devil team boasts ultimately has helped them succeed this season. With a young roster, he is excited for what the future holds.

“There’s so much diversity within the group because they’re from all over and Europe," Hill said. "It brings bond and a strength as we learn about each other’s cultures and families."


Reach the reporter at sbrisen@asu.edu or follow @sophiabriseno on Twitter.

Like State Press Sports on Facebook and follow @statepressport on Twitter.


Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.