The Student News Site of East Lansing High School


The Student News Site of East Lansing High School


The Student News Site of East Lansing High School


The tennis menace

Exchange student joins high school tennis team; places at States
Photo by Tianna Tran
Getting ready to return a serve, Ismoil rears his racket back in preparation on Oct. 6.

Tennis isn’t just a sport for Iskandarkuja Ismoil (10). It’s a passion. The thrill of the game. The strategy. The physical challenge. All of it is what makes it enjoyable for him.

This fall, Ismoil came to ELHS as an exchange student visiting from Tajikistan, a country in Central Asia. He has played tennis for six years, since he was 10, and has harvested a great love and appreciation for the game.

He plays tournament level 4.0 through 7.0.  There are 13 different ratings ranging from 1.0 – 7.0. 1.0 indicates that the person has never been in a tournament, and 7.0 is for professional tennis players.

Ismoil is one of the team members for the Junior National Tajikistan Tennis Team. 

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“This team has guys I’ve known since I started playing tennis and whom I see every day,” Ismoil said. “We sometimes practice together, it’s very fun and productive.”

For Ismoil, his favorite memory of tennis is his first tournament, which was away from home for him in Vietnam.

“I really felt the whole culture and atmosphere of tennis,” Ismoil said. “It was so unforgettable because it was the first. Nowadays there are no such feelings anymore because having been in many tournaments you already get used to it.”

For Ismoil, what motivates him to continue playing tennis is the competitive nature and ability to improve.

“Every time I step on the court, I’m flooded with intense emotions,” Ismoil said. “My constant drive to improve and compete in top-level tournaments fuels my passion for the game.”

While the tennis season ended as of last week, there were many great moments for Ismoil. He won sixth seed at States, the equivalent of winning sixth place in the state. Along with the accomplishments, there were also many fun team moments throughout the season for Ismoil.

During his time in America he found an appreciation for the education system, with it being his favorite part of America.  

“It operates seamlessly with an incredible range of opportunities, from school clubs to sports,” Ismoil said. “The atmosphere in American schools is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, and it’s been a pleasant surprise.”

Having school sports is different from other countries. In Tajikistan, if you play tennis it’s taught through a private coach.

Before he landed in America, Ismoil expected that studying would be challenging because of the language barriers.

“I anticipated that studying here might be challenging, mainly due to language barriers, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how everything seems accessible and how supportive the education system is,” Ismoil said.

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Ella Moore
Ella Moore, Website Editor
Ella Moore is in the class of 2024 and is the Website Editor for Portrait.  This is her second year on staff as a senior.  Ella's favorite thing about journalism is being kept informed about her community and differing communities.  When she's not in the newsroom, Ella enjoys listening to Taylor Swift and going on hikes with her dog.

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