YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Youngstown State tennis team has been celebrating since Sunday as the teams captured Horizon League championships and are heading to the NCAA Tournament.
“A lot of emotions,” said senior Claudia Rosas. “I still get goosebumps to just see YSU up there, it is amazing.”
You might notice some different accents with these Penguins. Of the 18 players on the Youngstown State roster, not one is from the Valley. In fact, not even one is from the United States.
“I would say it is unique,” said men’s head coach Ulises Hernandez. “Just because they feel like they are coming in to an unknown as freshman and then they get brought into the family and now they are very much together at all times.”
“I can say that I made friends for life from everywhere in the world,” men’s tennis junior Laurentiu Mandocescu explained. “It is a unique experience to say the least. But we get along so well because we are internationals so we can relate to being foreign.”
The YSU roster certainly spans the globe. From as close as Mexico, to as far away as Vanuatu which is an Republic in the South Pacific and everywhere in-between. From England to France, Spain to Australia and Germany to Japan.
“None of us speak the same language and it is crazy we can all get along so well,” said William Everett, an England native and YSU junior. “Special relationship you have with them because you know what they sacrificed to get here, we don’t see our families for 9-10 months out of the year.”
“We sometimes can get homesick so we have to stick together, help each other not miss home to much, have a good time,” said Rosas, a Mexico native. “It is really nice that you learn from a lot of different cultures, diversity, it is amazing.”
But it is those differences that has brought these two teams together. And no matter how far from home they are, success on the court makes it seem like they are right at home.
“It doesn’t matter where you are from,” said women’s head coach Mickael Sopel. “It is all about creating that culture here at Youngstown State with that team and those girls and guys that come together. And great things happen, it is very cool, very nice to see that.”