Clayton State's Final Four Women's Tennis Team

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

From Staff Reports

Clayton State University's women's tennis team returned to campus on May 14 after competing in the NCAA Division II Final Four in Altamonte Springs, Fla. While it could certainly be said that the seven team members were returning "home," in reality Morrow, is a long way from home for these seven scholar-athletes, all of whom are from Europe.

At a university with a growing reputation in international programs involving both students and faculty, it only seems appropriate that the seven tennis-playing Lakers hail from England, France, Croatia,

Sweden, Slovakia and Ukraine. And while this diverse team's six native tongues may run the gamut from English to Swedish to French, they conclusively proved during the past season that they all speak fluent tennis. Ranked 12th nationally for much of the season, Clayton State's seven international tennis players became the third Laker team this academic year to advance to at least the NCAA Division II Elite Eight in their respective sport, finishing with an 18-8 record and reaching the

Final Four successively defeating Wingate, Columbus State (avenging a defeat earlier in the regular season), Queens (NY) and California (Pa.) in the NCAA tournament before losing to third-ranked Lynn in the Final Four.

Clayton State's 2011 tennis team included: Jessica Budd, Bristol, England; Marie Cercelletti, Domvallier, France; Martina Dedaj, Pula, Croatia; Charlotte Fabricius, Stockholm, Sweden; Ivana Krommelova, Nove Zamky, Slovakia; Viktoriya Semyrodenko, Donetsk, Ukraine; and Katie White, Wolverhampton, England.

Although Coach LeTrone Mason and Athletic Director Mason Barfield are immediately identified with women's tennis at Clayton State, it would be remiss not to mention another Clayton State staff member who has a role with all of the University's international students. That's Brett M. Reichert, associate director of the International Student Services Office (ISSO). Indeed, he has a unique perspective on the challenges the team faced off the court.

"ISSO is proud of these student-athletes since they are successful in three roles: student, athlete and international representative," he says.

"This third role implies all kinds of extra responsibilities and pressures, like being far from home and family; and coping with linguistic and cultural differences. These girls really know the meaning of keeping their eyes on the ball!"

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.