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Seven Women, Six Countries, One Team

UB’s international tennis team bonds over Chinese food, reggae music and being the UB Bulls

The UB women’s tennis team, from left: Marta Stoyanova, Anamaria Candanoza, Tanvi Shah, Miranda Podlas, Margarita Kotok, Laura Fernandez, Laura Holterbosch.

By Rachel Raimondi

“Being so close makes you feel more comfortable on the court.”
Anamaria Candanoza, senior business major from Colombia

If the UB women’s tennis team were fluent in any one language, it would be food. And despite the fact that none of the seven players is from China, their top pick for a team dinner is a Chinese restaurant. “We love it because it has a little bit of everyone’s culture,” says Miranda Podlas, a senior communication major from Buffalo, N.Y.

The players—who hail from India, Bulgaria, Spain, Germany, Colombia and the U.S.—view themselves as ordinary American college girls. It’s a fairly easy outlook to adopt at UB, where approximately 1,880 new international students enrolled last fall.

Even so, Marta Stoyanova, a senior business major from Ruse, Bulgaria, was initially concerned that she would be the lone international player on the team. When she found out how diverse the team was, she felt right at home.

Now, she and the three other seniors on the team share an apartment, often inviting the remaining players over for movie nights. Their tight bond helps in their tennis matches, says Anamaria Candanoza, a senior business major from Santa Marta, Colombia, who won the Charlie Flight singles championship at the USAFA Women’s Tennis Invitational in September 2013. “Being so close makes you feel more comfortable on the court.”

The players do have a few simple team rules. There’s no judging one another for eating ice cream before and/or after practice, and the road trip soundtrack is primarily Spanish and reggae music.

“We’re such a small group,” says head coach Kristen Ortman Maines (EdM ’08, BA ’06), a former student-athlete. “We eat all our meals together and learn so much about each other so quickly that I don’t think about it as ‘Anamaria is from Colombia and Tanvi is from India.’”

In fact, the women say they rarely notice their cultural differences. “We’ll talk about things from home, but mostly we don’t see ourselves as individuals,” says Stoyanova. “We’re the UB Bulls!”

Racking Up The Miles

Miles each player traveled to UB (most to least)

7,803 Tanvi Shah
Mumbai, India
4,864 Marta Stoyanova Ruse, Bulgaria
3,828 Laura Holterbosch Krefeld, Germany
3,752 Laura Fernandez Madrid, Spain
2,760 Anamaria Candanoza Santa Marta, Colombia
76 Margarita Kotok Macedon, N.Y
6 Miranda Podlas Buffalo, N.Y.