World converges on Washington women's tennis team

Washington women's tennis
The University of Washington women's tennis warms up before the regular season finale against Washington State. (KOMO)

SEATTLE -- The world comes together on the University of Washington women's tennis team.

"It feels like it's a melting pot," said junior Nour Abbes. "We all bring whatever we have to the table."

Five of the Huskies' seven players come from outside the United States.

"There's a lot of talent in the states, but we're in a position where a lot of top Americans generally go to the same schools," said head coach Robin Stephenson. "To build the team up and to get us to compete with some of those top teams, I have to go find some of the top talent globally."

Abbes is from Tunisia, freshman Tami Grende came here from Indonesia, and sophomore Miki Kobayashi was born in Japan, but grew up in Thailand.

"I think we get along really well," Kobayashi said. "Because we're tennis players, we travel a lot. We get to know each other better than other sports."

The Huskies also have two players from Canada: Elianne Douglas-Miron from Ottawa and Vancouver's Stacey Fung.

Washington's head coach is even Canadian.

"It's one thing to have a group of people that have a ton of things in common and are very similar to each other," said Stephenson, who is in her second season with the Huskies, "but our girls from different backgrounds, obviously different ages, and different experiences. It's really cool to see them come together and click."

It doesn't always click, though.

"Definitely food wise," said Fung. "I think I'm not as adventurous as some other people on the team. So sometimes when we go out for dinner, they'll be ordering intestines and all this weird raw food and I'm like 'I'm going to stay away from that.'"

Whatever differences they have:

"We're playing for the same team so we have the same goal; working through that together," said Grende.

Or however far the players come from:

"We have some classes together, we go home, we live together, we're on court together," said Fung. "We're all just really good friends on and off the court."

There's one thing that really brings this team together - tennis.

"You see how other people think about things and you learn from them," Abbes said. "You learn about their experiences; from where they came from. It makes you a better person, a better tennis players, and a better person overall. I'm very fortunate to be a part of this team."