Takeru “TK” Watanabe is 20-year-old first-year freshman majoring in international business from Kawasaki, Japan.
In this interview, Watanabe talks about his adjustment to the U.S., teammates, and love of ramen.
RA How did you get into tennis?
TK: I started when I was seven. My parents played and I really wanted to play with them. My parents spent a lot of time and money for me to play, so I am thankful.
RA: Do you talk to your parents a lot?
TK: No, they miss me, but we only text a bit. If they call me I will call them, but I will see them in the summer.
RA: How did you hear about UTSA?
TK: I first decided to come to the USA last year, so I started studying in California. I was studying and playing tennis when Coach (Rodrigo da Silva) recruited me. I enrolled very late, but coach really wanted me to play here, so I did.
RA: Was it hard to adjust to the U.S?
TK: The first time I came to U.S was difficult. I like Texas, everyone has been very nice to me. Everything is very big here though, huge. Very tall. Anytime I travel somewhere I see big forests and nature. I love nature…it is very relaxing for me.
RA: What do you like about the team?
TK: I love the guys, especially seniors and juniors…they are very kind to me. They really help me out.
RA: Is there a big difference between tennis in Japan and in the U.S?
TK: The system and rules are very different, there is no college tennis like there is in the U.S. There is team tennis but, the rules are not the same, and it is not the same experience
RA: What do you miss most about Japan?
TK: I miss Japanese food so much…I love ramen. Ramen is my absolute favorite food. There is nothing in Texas that I enjoy as much as ramen, but I don’t know. Maybe when I go back to Japan in the summer, I will miss something in Texas. But right now, no.
RA: Who is your favorite tennis player?
TK: Hmm… Kei Nishikori. He’s very good at English. He’s got a very good jumping forward, very different than me. My favorite shot is my backhand.
RA: What is your favorite thing about playing tennis as a Roadrunner?
TK: I love that all my teammates are varying in nationality. Some are from South America, Australia, we are very different culturally, but we all get along. We always laugh. I can learn not just about America, but from my teammates and their foreign countries.
RA: What do you think about your team saying “on it?”
TK: “On it?” I don’t like it. So, they say it to throw the other team off but, I don’t like it too much. I prefer the Japanese “ike ike” (Go, go).