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A New Home In U: Slava Shainyan

Oct 2, 2020

Senior Slava Shainyan made the move from his hometown of Moscow, Russia right before entering the college scene. Now in his fifth year with the Utah men's tennis program, Shainyan has acclimated to the Salt Lake City lifestyle and had many adjustments and learning experiences along the way. A landing spot for many international recruits, read below to find out from Shainyan's perspective on what is like to be an international student-athlete at Utah, where he now calls his home away from home.

What are the main differences between Salt Lake City and Moscow? 
"I would say the lifestyles themselves are different. Moscow is a big capital city so you have a fast pace lifestyle where you always stay busy. In Salt Lake, the lifestyle is a little slower and it feels like you have way more time during the day. It definitely was a big adjustment for me."

What was the hardest part about moving across the world for college?
"I feel like the answer applies to all international people – the culture shock. Russia and the U.S. have very different cultures, so I had to adjust to the surrounding mentality, language, communication, and traditions. It takes a lot of mental adjustment especially for those that come to the U.S. when they're older and don't know the language very well."

How did the Utah coaches find you? Was the recruiting process difficult as an international prospect?
"Before college, I lived and trained in Ojai, Calif., where the Pac-12 Championships are held. During the Championships, I was playing a local tournament there and the coaches got a word of me and decided to reach out. The process as an international student can get pretty challenging – a LOT of paperwork. But it's all worth it at the end."

When you were growing up, when did you know you wanted to come to the U.S. and play college tennis?
I was 14 years old and came to visit Weil Tennis Academy in Ojai. I really liked the environment there as it had everything a tennis player needs in terms of facilities, weather conditions, coaching staff, etc. I feel like in Moscow it was really hard for me to practice productively because it took me 3-4 hours of commuting every day. I learned about college tennis when I was in California and decided to pursue that when I was about 16 years old."

Why do you think Utah is such a great destination for international students like yourself?
I would say the culture of the University of Utah itself is what makes it great for international students. There are a lot of people that international people can relate to as a lot of the students here come from different backgrounds.

What is it like to have multiple other international players on the team?
It's honestly great. Coming from a different background is something that unites most of us, which makes the culture of our team very unique and dynamic. I feel like our diversity is what differentiates us from other teams, and as an international, I appreciate a lot."

What made you decide to come back for another season after having your 'senior' season cut short last year?
I felt like I had some unfinished business here. Last season was stopped before we got into conference play. I have always envisioned leaving this place on a high note, and with our team this year we definitely have a chance to make a statement in our conference. Also, a getting a Master's degree on scholarship sounded really nice!