10 players, 9 languages

Men’s tennis tackles challenges of communicating


File Photo

Men’s tennis set up practice to prepare for the upcoming in state and out of state games to represent WSU.

Communication can be difficult when two people speak the same language; imagine the difficulty that arises when you have a group of people each coming onto the court with a different language.

The men’s tennis team has 10 players on its roster and nine languages spoken.

Japanese, Czech, French, New Zealand English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian and English are the home languages for the players — Czech is the only language which has two players sharing it.

Head coach Danny Bryan said the team has come a long way in their communication skills over the season.

“It’s different now than it was at the beginning of the year,” Bryan said. “Back in January we had four new guys that came in and they weren’t as good at English as they are today. Right now it’s not that big of a deal anymore.”

Senior Vitor Mendes, who is from Brazil, said the players are constantly learning each other’s’ languages.

“We have a communication [style] where we mix all the idioms we have and all the languages we have,” Mendes said. “For instance, we have an Italian guy this semester — he’s a sophomore — none of our teammates knew anything about Italian. But just by getting to know him we started to know some words and add them to our vocabulary.

“There are some sentences where we start in French and finish in Italian with Japanese in the middle.”

Sophomore Haru Inoue, who is from Japan, said he only had one main issue with learning English.

“For me, Japanese grammar and English grammar are completely different,” Inoue said. “That was the most difficult part for me.”

For the players that have a greater struggle with adjusting to English there are intensive English classes offered throughout the year. The players can attempt to test out of the program at a few points during the year.

Andrea Caligiana, a sophomore from Italy, is taking intensive English classes and will be entering the seventh and final class over the summer. He said that English has been a part of his tennis career and he has been expected to know enough to get by on the tennis court.

“I’ve played a lot of tournaments — internationally — where you have to speak in English,” Caligiana said. “On the court it is easier, I think, to speak English.

“If we need to explain something better we will say it in our languages, but that’s only because our vocabulary is poor.”

Mendes said that the team works to hold each other accountable for speaking English when they’re around each other. Bryan said he always tries to double-check with his players to ensure they understood what he told them to accomplish.

“Most of the guys will understand pretty well,” Bryan said. “If I’ve confused them a little about what I said — or they say, ‘Hey, can you say that again?’ — I’ll try a different way to describe it or do something visually to give them a better idea.”