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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Marquette women’s tennis players chasing dreams overseas

(Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Half of the Marquette women’s tennis team packed up their entire life to move across the globe and play the sport they love. They said goodbye to family, friends and their entire lives to become Golden Eagles.

Now, the women would not have done it any differently.

But traveling at the amateur level was not uncommon for them.

“I feel like I was adjusting (to travel) pretty well just because I was used to being away from home for tournaments, so I used to travel a lot when I was in high school,” senior Lara Kaiser said. 

However, committing to a school across the world turned out to be tougher than imagined.

Serbia native senior Emilija Kojcic said despite the familiarity of travel, the move was anything but easy for her. 

“In my case it was really tough and stressful,” Kojcic said. “I was not the type of person who would move away from family, I was very attached and emotional. It was a really big part of my life, but I was proud that I was able to overcome all of that.” 

And while leaving their home country was hard, so was arriving in a new one. They had to adapt to new food, people and culture while also stepping into the American college experience.  

“I know the culture is different here, I just can’t pinpoint what it is,” senior Tiana Windbuchler said. “Being from New Zealand we have vastly different personalities; we are kind of laid back.”  

Windbuchler is one of two New Zealand natives on the team and plays alongside fellow Kiwi sophomore Emma-Jane Barclay.

Barclay transferred from Purdue this year and was worried about having to once again adapt to another new community. She said having Windbuchler on the team has provided her with a sense of home.  

“Having Tiana here being from New Zealand has helped so much,” Barclay said. “She’s really set an example for me on how to keep having New Zealand and my culture here.” 

Austria native Kaiser found that the hardest part for her was the difference in communication. Her first language is German, and while she took English classes in high school, she struggled with casual conversations.  

“For me it was the language barrier when I came in,” Kaiser said. “Not that I wasn’t able to communicate, but it was communicating with people my age. I remember I got my first text, and I was like what do I respond to this?” 

However, Kaiser built strong friendships with her teammates, especially considering that more than half of the team were international students when she came to Marquette.

“When I came in my first-year, we only had three Americans,” Kaiser said. “That is the reason I picked Marquette too, I knew I would have this group of people right away that got where I came from and understood what I am going through.” 

The women weren’t always used to playing on a team. Internationally, the majority of tennis players play independently, or with very light team experience. 

Now as Golden Eagles, they not only play for themselves, but their teammates and their coaches. 

“The success of the coaches back home, if you win or lose, that technically doesn’t matter,” Barclay said. “But here you’re playing for more than yourself. There’s more riding on success here, but the reason is because we have so many opportunities and the coaches want what’s best for the team.” 

Windbuchler noticed a significant change in practice styles from her coaches back home due to the intensity of being on a college team. She used to practice an hour and a half every other day, where now at Marquette, she is practicing nearly four hours every day.  

“They are hard here,” Windbuchler said. “You can slack off easily at home. But the coaches here are college coaches for a reason.”

While every woman faced their own struggles, they all agreed that the community and people who surrounded them helped the most.

“The people made it so easy,” Windbuchler said. “I don’t know what is in the water in Milwaukee but I fell in love with the people here.” 

This story was written by Sophia Woods. She can be reached at [email protected] or @SophiaWoodsMU on Twitter/X. 

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About the Contributor
Sophia Woods
Sophia Woods, Assistant Sports Editor
Sophia Woods is a first-year student from Plainfield, Illinois studying business management and journalism, serving as an Assistant Sports Editor of the Marquette Wire for the 2023-2024 year. She has experience in writing sports and feature articles. Outside of writing, Sophia enjoys snowmobiling, spending time with family and playing tennis.

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