Foreign Exchange Student-Athlete Plays Tennis for Great Falls Hi - News, Sports and Weather

Foreign Exchange Student-Athlete Plays Tennis for Great Falls High

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"My name is Riho Koyama and I'm from Japan," said Riho Koyama.

She might be more than 5,000 miles away from home. After visiting the United States as a tourist, Riho decided to come back as a foreign exchange student with two goals in mind, which is to learn English as well as adapt to the United States.

"I want to learn American culture," said Riho Koyoma.

While the distance from Japan to the U.S. is quite large, Riho loves a sport that transcends across these two countries, which is tennis.

"I had played tennis for four years," said Koyama.

She joined the Great Falls high school's tennis team because no matter what continent she's on,   playing tennis is an opportunity to bond with others. 

"Sports makes us good relationship. We can get together to compete each other. It's good seeing," said Koyama.

She alternates back and forth as the number one girls singles player for the Bison, and her record is near :500.   

"I think tennis is kind of mental sport you know like so more. The people have more strong mental can be like beat opponent," said Koyama.

Come Thursday, Riho will be competing at the Northern AA Divisional tournament in Kalispell with her sights set on making it to state. Win or lose, one thing she's enjoyed about the competition here is the good sportsmanship.

"Here it's more friendly if you beat each other. I like here because in Japan if you beat her opponent, we are not happy. We don't want to talk with you. but here, handshake like say 'good game'. It's really nice. Nice here."

"She's just been outstanding for us. Never complains, always here at practice and always does what she is told which is really great," said Bison tennis head coach Janice Dodds.

While tennis season and the school year is nearing the end, Riho hopes she left an impact on the Bison team.

"I want them to remember I was here. Just I was here because it's like special memory to play tennis with them and I'm going to miss them." 

Anytime she picks up a racket, no matter where she is, she can always think about her time in Electric City.

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