Foreigners Acing Out Locals

Some spectator sports require certain accessories. Tennis is one of them.

Folding chair? Check. Suntan lotion? Check. Zinc oxide? Check. Designer visor? Check.

And if the destination is the Southern California junior college individual championships today at Santa Barbara City College, consider adding another item to the checklist:

A world atlas.

For some sports you need a program. For junior college tennis you need maps of the world.

Pierce College, a perennial power in the two-year college ranks, has players from Denmark, Yugoslavia, India, Taiwan and Israel.

Glendale's Ashot Smbatyan, the sixth-seeded singles player in the regional, is Armenian. His partner in doubles, Samuel Torres, is French.

"Some of these teams, their rosters look like somebody emptied Europe," said Bob Donaghy, Glendale's coach of 15 years.

College of the Desert, the state's top-ranked team, has top junior players from Norway, Mexico and Spain.

Where does it end? Not within this state's boundaries.

Junior college players are rated in two categories--one for Californians and another for the rest of the nation. Last year's list of the top 50 players outside California included no fewer than 40 foreigner, according to Paul Xanthos, Pierce's veteran coach.

"I have a friend in Texas, his school is sending him to France to recruit," Xanthos said.

"It's too bad too, because we have a lot of good players from local schools who end up getting shut out."

And therein lies a paradox.

Xanthos' own team is dominated by foreign players of such quality that he says they are scaring away home-grown products.

This season's Pierce team has eight players. A few years ago the Brahmas numbered close to 30.

Xanthos says he doesn't recruit foreign players. But he doesn't turn them away, either.

"If they want to come to Pierce College, what am I going to tell them to do, not come? That's not my philosophy, either," he said.

He says he doesn't recruit. But he does return phone calls.

Kasper Nielsen, the Brahmas' top singles player, was referred to Pierce by Hayward Butler, a Xanthos protege now teaching in Denmark. Vanja Nadali, No. 2 on the singles ladder, enrolled at the advice of Roman Antloic, a fellow Yugoslav who played at Pierce last season.

Johnson Chen, who plays No. 5 singles, was brought in from Taiwan by former Pierce player Desi McBride. Miki Braun, the No. 6 singles player, was ranked fourth among Israeli juniors in the 16- to 18-year-old division before spending three years in the Israeli army. He came to Pierce because his girlfriend was enrolled.

"I didn't have to lift a finger," Xanthos said. "Really, they just showed up."

Donaghy, the Glendale coach, voices a similar sentiment, saying that he didn't recruit Smbatyan, the Western State Conference singles champion.

"He literally showed up at the door asking for the tennis coach," Donaghy said.

Blind luck? Maybe. But, for now, such is life in our "community" colleges.

Envelopes please: Kenny Kendrena and Patti Pearson were honored Thursday as Cal State Northridge senior athletes of the year.

Indeed, they make quite a battery.

Kendrena, the right-handed ace of the Northridge baseball team, tops the school's all-time list in strikeouts, complete games and shutouts and is among the leaders in victories.

Pearson, a catcher on the softball team, ranks among the school's top 10 in games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, triples and sacrifices. She has committed only two errors in 188 chances this season.

In the Lions' den: Northridge will take part in a four-team men's basketball tournament at Loyola Marymount's Gersten Pavilion, Dec. 11-12.

The Matadors will play the host Lions in the first round. Michigan State and Stetson will meet in the other first-round game.

Briefly: Mike Sims, catcher on the Northridge baseball team, was charged with his first two passed balls of the season during a three-game series against Grand Canyon last weekend. . . .

Simaan Hawa, the top singles player on the Moorpark men's tennis team, is expected to transfer to Pierce.

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