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Northern California squad shows strength in diversity

November 13, 2016 12:21 AM

By Cory Kamerschak, special to USTA.com

SURPRISE, ARIZ. For the Northern California section team competing in the USTA League Mixed 40 & Over 9.0 National Championships in Surprise, its strengths aren’t limited to on-court play. The squad, based out of the Olympic Club in San Francisco, is also standing out this weekend for its diverse lineup of players from many different countries.

Daniel Brandt, who was born and raised in Japan, moved to the United States in 1992 to play tennis at University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif. He’s been on the team for two years and believes the squad's diversity has been a valuable asset.

“We have Europeans, Asians and Americans, so we’ve all grown up on different types of tennis courts,” said Brandt. “But it’s the cultural differences from across the world brings us together.”

Brandt gave praise to team captain Zee Chasseray, chair of the Olympic Club tennis committee, for assembling such a diverse group. Chasseray was born and raised in Turkey but has lived in the United States since 1998 and has been a member of the Olympic Club for five years.

“We are so proud that we are representing a club because not just anyone can play at Nationals,” said Chasseray. “This is the first time ever that a 9.0 mixed doubles team has made it to the Nationals in Olympic Club history.”

The team has brought 13 players with them and four guests, including Brandt’s parents from Japan and Chasseray’s parents from Turkey. The support has been felt throughout the whole team.

“Everyone gets along so well. We’re a family here,” said Chasseray

Chasseray’s husband, Nicolas, is from France and has been in the U.S. for eight years. The two met five years ago after a friend convinced Nicolas to join a mixed doubles team that Chasseray was on.

“The captain asked me if I wanted to play, but I wasn’t sure because I’d never played mixed doubles,” said Nicolas. “He said, ‘Are you sure you don’t want to play? Because once you meet your partner, you’ll want to marry her.’”

That statement would prove to be accurate. The two began dating shortly after and married each other last year.

Jackie Holm was born in St. Louis, but both of her parents are from the Philippines. She said she enjoys the wide variety of cultures that the team has to offer.

“We get to learn a lot about each other, even outside of tennis,” said Holm. “I think it broadens your awareness and you can take that to the court, so it definitely adds value.”

The team has played so well together that they have earned a spot in Sunday’s semifinals and are one step closer to earning a Nationals title.