Henriette Reinhard, left, and Jiyeon Ahn, exchange students from Germany and South Korea, are attending Paonia High School. They decided to join the tennis team as part of their American experience.
Their names are Henriette and Jiyeon, but you can call them Henna and Jane.
Henna Reinhardt hails from Berlin, and Jiyeon Ahn from Goyang, South Korea.
Both are attending Paonia High School this year, Reinhardt as a senior and Ahn as a junior. Both are here as exchange students. And both were convinced by their American friends to join the tennis team.
"I like tennis," said Reinhardt, who also played on the Lady Eagles basketball team and was in the PHS fall production of "They Came From Somewhere." Basketball, not so much, she laughed. It was a hard sport to learn and to play.
Ahn doesn't just like tennis. "I love it," she said repeatedly while giving her racket a swing.
While tennis isn't foreign to them, playing tennis as part of the high school experience is. "Tennis in Germany is more an individual sport," said Reinhardt. In both countries, sports is something done in physical education classes, but there is no competition between schools. If one wants to compete in a sport like tennis, it's done on an individual basis.
In Korea, said Ahn, the boys can play sports like soccer and baseball, but there are no team sports for girls.
"It's more strict in Korea," added Ahn. They concentrate on their studies. In America, she added, math is really easy.
Reinhardt and Ahn are two of three exchanges students currently attending PHS. Gaberille Moet is from Holland and competes on the track team.
Reinhardt, who has played a little bit of tennis, is partnered with Mary Moll at 3 doubles, and Ahn is on a junior varsity doubles team with Kaity Johnson.
Ahn said she was very nervous in her first competitive match against Grand Junction High School, which they lost. She doesn't mind getting beat, but the ball moves really fast.
For now, both are just enjoying the sport, their teammates, and the wonderful warm spring weather.
As part of the Rotary program, Reinhardt was required to stay with two host families as a way to broaden and enrich her American experience. She first stayed with Robert and Martha Justman, and recently moved in with David and Lori Marek. Ahn is staying with the Stuart Carson family.
The team lost 2-5 in their first match against Grand Junction. One singles Annavah Kropp won 6-3, 7-5 and two singles Tyler Rapke won in a tie-breaker, 4-6, 6-7, (7-1), 10-8. Despite losses, everyone played well, said head coach Kyle Banks.
Paonia faced Hotchkiss on Tuesday, and on Saturday, they hosted their home opener against Vail Mountain School.
The team is looking for sponsors to help support the purchase of equipment. For more information, contact Kyle Banks by calling PHS at 527-4882.