ST. PETER, Minn. (WCCO) — The Gustavus men’s tennis team won the MIAC regular season championship for the 33rd straight season.

“We really enjoyed it this year again and we got to win it again so we’re happy about that,” said Daniel Fouchier, a junior on the team.

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He traveled stateside from his home in the Netherlands to play college tennis. A rising trend in the past several years.

“It’s been growing in popularity a lot in the recent years,” he said. “When I was around 12 I still had no idea I was gonna do anything remotely similar to this.”

This year’s team has taken it to an extreme, with 11 international players, the roster has at least one representative of six continents.

“You learn about different cultures. You get to talk about different things,” said Taona Mhwandagara, a freshman from Harare, Zimbabwe.

“We have one guy from New Zealand (Kaleb Stevens). He has some very funny language and slang,” said Oscar Wikstrom with a laugh. Wikstrom hails from Hunnebostrand, Sweden.

Six of the seven freshmen this year came a long way to attend college in St. Peter, Minnesota. Like Marco Siviero from Sao Miguel de Oeste, Brazil.

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“We always have dinner at like 8, 9 p.m.,” he said. “(But) here it’s like 6. So it’s quite interesting because my first day, when I arrived here, I went to the cafeteria at 8:30 p.m. and it was closed so I couldn’t have dinner my first day.”

Culture shock effects different people different ways.

“You have to really get to know someone for them to be really open with you,” said Mhwandagara. “And back home I feel like some people are very open from the get go.”

Gusties head coach Tommy Valentini says both the international players and the 14 from the Midwest benefit from the diverse team.

“I’ve had a blast,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot over the last couple years and this group has taught me a lot already that’s for sure.”

Fouchier is already thinking about a worldwide reunion when college tennis ends.

“Go to Africa, go to South America, go to Asia, visit a bunch of the guys. I think that’d be a great trip,” he said.

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Besides the players mentioned, Gustavus features seven more international players. They are: Rafael Costa (Sao Paulo, Brazil); Federico Fiorda (Santa Rosa, Argentina); Odin Fouchier (Nootdorp, Netherlands); Pedro Gomes-Menezes (Dunkerque, France); Diego Guzman (Santa Cruz, Bolivia); and Joel Hug (Bangkok, Thailand).

Ren Clayton