Tennis: One of the Many International Collegiate Sports
Courtesy: New Mexico State University  
Release:  04/22/2011


Ivan Fernandez

Women’s Tennis Head Coach


As the spring semester comes to an end, the women’s Aggie tennis spring season has been in full swing. In the last four months we have played more than 18 team matches, nine of them at home, leading to the season ending WAC Championships in Boise, Idaho.


Since becoming the women’s head coach at NM State, the most frequent question I get is, “how do you get so many international student-athletes to come to NM State?” Which is usually followed by, “why don’t you have more American student-athletes on your tennis team?” The signing of international student-athletes is not a phenomenon that is only taking place on the NM State tennis teams. In the WAC there are over 146 tennis student-athletes and almost 60 percent are international.


International student-athletes are represented in almost every collegiate sport. Here at NM State, there are close to 500 student-athletes and almost 10 percent are international.  Most of the New Mexico State Athletic teams have international student-athletes representing over 15 countries including Brazil, France, Canada, Senegal, The Philippines, India, Germany, England, Croatia, Thailand, Malaysia, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Hong Kong and The Netherlands.


So, why are there so many international student-athletes on the NM State tennis teams? Although I actively try to recruit top American tennis players, the truth of the matter is that many of them prefer to go to larger well-known universities, sometimes even if it means never having the opportunity to actually compete in a collegiate tennis match. This leads many collegiate tennis coaches, myself included, at midsized universities to look for qualified student-athletes outside of the U.S. in order to be competitive with the larger universities that can recruit the top American players.


Also, most foreign countries do not offer collegiate athletics in their universities, so many of the top athletes from these countries want to come to the U.S. where they can continue to play the sport they love at a competitive level while also continuing their education. Education is very important to these student-athletes. Currently, my women’s team G.P.A. is over a 3.5, and graduation is a top priority, not only for me, but for them as well. The women’s tennis team has been named an ITA All-American Academic Team in seven of the last eight years and several student-athletes have received individual Academic All-American Scholar Athlete awards.


These international student-athletes are some of the top tennis players in their respective countries. They feel honored and truly appreciate the opportunity to come to NM State. The level of tennis that these student-athletes bring to NM State is of the highest level in the region outside of watching professional tennis. Collegiate Tennis is extremely accessible and very fan friendly. I encourage you to come out to meet the team and to experience the excitement and intensity of watching live tennis.


The NM State men’s and women’s tennis teams are winding up the spring season at home with WAC matches this weekend, April 22-24, at the New Mexico State University Aggies Tennis Center.




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