Political tensions don’t deter international tennis players


Currently having four international students in the 10-member team, DePaul men’s tennis obtains both cultural variety and athletic honors. Nathan de Veer, a student-athlete from Netherlands, has been named Big East Men’s Tennis “Athlete of the Week” twice, in January and February.

Considering the political climate, there’s a question of will enrolling international students to sports teams become more difficult in the future.

The political climate is subtly changing, due to the reshuffle of the president and administration. Executive orders that restrict immigration from Muslim countries might be just the beginning. Supporting the limits on legal immigration and opposing the guest-visa program during his election, President Trump seemingly has the purpose of tightening immigration policy and increasing the difficulty for foreigners who plan to work and stay in this country.

The current and potential policy changes, however, haven’t affected many of the international student-athletes on DePaul men’s tennis. The career plans of international student-athletes and the team’s recruitment of international students remain the same as before.

The potential political changes are unlikely to stop international applicants from applying for the combination of getting education and playing their sports in the United States, according to Matt Brothers, the head coach of DePaul men’s tennis team. The athletic and academic scholarships, as well as the opportunities of playing sports professionally in colleges, are still attractive for international students and temper their concerns about the Trump Administration.

“I personally doubt that it’s going to be enough to deter some students who want to come here and get a great education,” Brothers said. “We are ready enough to get the student visa and take care (of) those things. I haven’t heard any concerns from international recruits about (international applicants’) desires to come here.”

The recruitment of international student-athletes will not be ceased. They are needed in campus sports programs, bringing diversity to the teams. In the U.S., tennis might not be considered one of the top five most popular sports, like basketball or football, but it is a globally popular sport, according to Brothers.

“It’s obviously something that the university supports,” Brothers said. “A lot of schools recruit internationally because we want to be competitive.”

De Veer has been on men’s tennis team for almost four years. Besides being honored as Men’s Tennis “Athlete of the Week,” he has also received the honor from the Big East for “Player of the Week” in his junior year. The recognitions enhance his confidence of becoming a professional tennis player or a tennis coach.

De Veer expects to graduate in this June, with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. Though de Veer has decided to pursue his tennis career in his home country, he believes that neither language nor policies would become barriers if he wanted to continue playing tennis in the U.S. after the graduation. De Veer has never felt excluded from this country, as time goes by and as the administration changes, because the country itself embraces multicultural elements.

“I love the country. I love Chicago,” de Veer said. “There is a wide variety of people from all kinds of the cultures, cities and places, so it’s very nice to live in such a multicultural place.”

DePaul freshman Tamas Zador, a student-athlete from Hungary, feels welcome here as well. It’s too early for Zador to come up with a mature career plan, but Zador doesn’t have much concern about his future in the United States, considering the potential political changes on immigrants or foreigners from President Trump.

Zador believes nationalities would exclude some people from potential restrictions. “I don’t think it’s against Europe and European people,” Zador said.

For Zador, those policies that are created by certain administrations under certain circumstances may not become permanent. “I don’t think it’s going to be a lot harder (to stay in this country after graduation), if I can find a job here,” Zador said.