NEW ORLEANS (February 21, 2022) – The creation of a new tennis team has almost doubled the number of foreign exchange students at Dillard University as all six members are from out of the country.
The six tennis players, who arrived this semester, are among 14 international students on campus, according to Monica White, director of recruitment, admissions and programming. With a student population of 1,081, the 14 foreign students comprise 1.3 percent of students here.
The six, all freshmen, are from five countries. Boris Aguma is from Kampala, Uganda. Yassine Ben Jemaa and Youssef Berrajah both hail from Sfax, Tunisia. Felix Hamp is from Boblingen, Germany; Pranav Mehta, Dehli, India; and Albert Segura, Catalunya (Catalonia), Spain.
All said this is their first time in America.
DU tennis coach Meenakshi Sundaram, who came to DU after teaching math and science in Napoleonville, said he found his players through 30 years of contacts all over the world from playing tennis. (He originally is from Chennai, India.)
Before agreeing to attend DU, the players said they’d never heard the term “HBCU,” but they agreed they’re glad to be here because of how welcome the campus has made them feel.
Jemaa said, “The students are very friendly and want to watch us play.”
The team won its first match of the season Feb. 19 7-0 against Mississippi University for Women and will take on the University of Mobile on Friday, Feb. 26, at the City Park Tennis Center. They had two matches prior to the win (against Xavier and Loyola), and another 11 matches are scheduled through April 11.
The players are teammates and roommates. They all live in Williams Hall as roommates or suitemates with one another or other athletes.
Berrajah, who rooms with Segura, said, “It’s like a brotherhood.”
Segura admitted missing his family and friends, and Aguma described some struggles adjusting to America, including campus life.
For example, Aguma said, “Students wear crocs and pants to class [here]. In my country, you must dress a certain way. Also, people come to class and fall asleep or scroll on Instagram.
In Uganda, he said, “You must ask for permission to leave the classroom and where to sit. In America, you can leave whenever you want. It’s so much freedom.”
Mehta said he loves that Dillard is close to downtown because he enjoys city life.
Added Hamp: “I’m doing good and looking forward to the parties and events on campus.”
(Autumn Ryan contributed to this report.)