How long have you been playing tennis?
10 years, and 2 years at Bear Creek.
Why do you play tennis?
It’s really fun. I’m playing because I want to get a scholarship for college, for both academics and athletics.
You wrote an essay about tennis stereotypes. What was it about?
I wrote about when I was in elementary school and people talked about their sports, and I was the only person who played tennis. They made fun of me, and said it was gay and for girls.
How do you perform on the team?
I’ve won every single match so far. I made it to league and sections. The guy I lost to at sections, who was white and Mexican, won the entire tournament. I just focus on my game and worry about my teammates after I win.
How well does your team do in comparison to other teams that are celebrated on campus?
Last year, I think our overall team record was 7-2. Our team didn’t make it to league, but I made it to league and won it.
Do you have respect on campus as a tennis/badminton player?
No. My friends make jokes about me playing tennis. People use the fact that I play tennis to put me down. One time, my friend, basketball player, and I were arguing about how much tennis players make, and he said tennis players don’t even make that much, and that no one watches it.
Does it affect the team’s morale?
I don’t know about the other team members, but for me, I can tell that I’m not as appreciated. But it doesn’t affect how I play. Last year, I was supposed to be in the rally, celebrating tennis. But I knew I would be made fun of, so I didn’t join.
Why do you feel people don’t like tennis?
Tennis isn’t a physical sport. The American ideal is that people will watch sport with physical contact, like football. Someone told me, all you do is hit the ball around. It’s a lot more than that.
Who/why does it continue to occur?
I kind of agree that tennis isn’t a popular sport. Most people in high school aren’t that good. It takes a lot of time for the skill to develop, so it’s easy for people to assume the sport is boring. People still like football even though our team sucks because it brings a lot of contact and excitement.
Is there anything to be done to fix the stereotype? Should it be fixed?
No, you can’t fix it. And it doesn’t need to be fixed; it doesn’t affect our playing.
Is it inherently the sports’ problem, an issue of culture shock, or a reflection of our society?
High school tennis players are made up of Asians, but once you get out of high school, it’s mostly Europeans. Most people aren’t informed about tennis, and the most exposure people get is from high school tennis.
How does cultural influence tie into your sports choice?
I started playing tennis because I played it as a kid with my mom at the park. Joining tennis doesn’t have anything to do with my family being Asian. My dad played basketball and volleyball. I’m one of the few Cambodians who play tennis here. When I compete in tournaments, the people are mostly European, but that could be because Asians are more likely to drop their high school sport after they get the college admission they want.
What cultural stereotypes surround tennis/badminton?
People think Asians play it for college applications. Like that typical Asian who has no athletic ability and does it only for college.