The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

Got a tip? Have something you need to tell us? Contact us

Loading Recent Classifieds...

International players give CSUN tennis a boost

After another journey through the many battles of a tennis season, senior YuYu Myinttun and sophomore Kanykey Koichumanova reflected back on their own journeys, coming from far-away nations to life in the United States.

Myinttun, from Rangoon, Myanmar, and Koichumanova, from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, were just two out of seven tennis players born in distant countries and making significant contributions to their team. The other players’ home countries include Spain, Poland, Singapore and France.

“We blend together well because everyone’s in the same situation,” Myinttun said. “We’re really close to each other.”

Koichumanova expressed the same sentiments about the team’s unity with diversity and also said adjustment to CSUN and her new country is still a learning process.

“I’m still getting used to (the U.S. culture),” Koichumanova said. “There are still new people here and because I’ve been in my country for 14 years, it was like a change in era. So it’s sometimes hard, (but) I have good friends and people here who have helped me.”

Koichumanova had left her country to further her education at CSUN in August 2004 and has not been back to Kyrgyzstan since. Myinttun and her parents left Myanmar when she was nine years old and moved to Los Angeles.

When Myinttun came to the United States, she said getting a better education played a major factor in moving to the U.S. With a scholarship to play for CSUN’s tennis team, Koichumanova said the opportunity to play college tennis and receive a greater education were the reasons why she had left Kyrgyzstan.

Koichumanova said tennis in her home country was less challenging than the U.S. competition.

“Here (in the U.S., tennis) is more developed and you have more chances to raise your level,” she said. “There’s not that many people in my own country that like to play tennis.”

She started to play tennis at the age of 7 as her mother tried to coach her to be one of the best players in Kyrgyzstan. Koichumanova practiced six days out of the week, with her mother constantly instructing.

“There’s a (tennis) club and my mom took me and she said, ‘We’ll see what happens,'” Koichumanova said. “And it happened.”

Although Myinttun and Koichumanova shared the same path to a new country, the tennis player from Myanmar had different obstacles than did the Kyrgyzstan native.

“I never actually played tennis back at home,” Myinttun said. “But … the majority of the men played. When I came here, I just saw girls my age playing my dad. He’s actually a tennis professional and all that, but (I) sort of had to ask him if I could play.”

After convincing her father to let his daughter play tennis, Myinttun starred at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, then earned a spot on the CSUN tennis team.

“I thought it was easy,” Myinttun said, referring to her high school tennis career. “It’s nothing like college. My dad teaching me how to play tennis is like a stepping stone for me to go to college.”

Both players agree that receiving a college education outweighs playing tennis. Myinttun hopes to graduate from CSUN with a graphic design degree, and Koichumanova hopes to graduate in about two years with an Asian American studies degree.

Myinttun and Koichumanova also said they miss their families in Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan. Although Koichumanova has not been back to her home country since 2004, Myinttun has been deprived of seeing her other relatives and home country since 1992.

They also miss their “home cooking.”

“I love Asian food,” Myinttun said. “I love my mom’s home cooking, and I love Thai food.”

Koichumanova offered a more vivid answer that would make almost anyone hunger for some home cooking.

“There’s nothing better than home cooking,” Koichumanova said. “When mom is at home and you’re watching TV and you’re smelling the food and you’re waiting a few minutes more and you’ll be done. Sounds good, huh?”

Nonetheless, both players said they did not really experience any culture shock after arriving in the United States.

Also, both players agree that the United States is less restrictive than their home countries.

“I get more freedom,” Myinttun said. “And I get to talk more.”

Asked which sports figure had the greatest influence on them, both players were hysterical about tennis star Stefi Graf.

“I grew up watching (Graf),” Myinttun said. “Just the way she plays, I wanted to mimic it.”

Both players also paid homage to their greatest role models. For Myinttun, it was her father. For Koichumanova, it was her mother.

“I admired my mom because of how strong she is,” Koichumanova said. “She been good for me in that she’s been through her college years. It helps to think that I could go through it, too.”

Arthur Vong can be reached at

More to Discover