The Goshen College men’s tennis team is made up of six individuals, three of which are new to campus. But only one of these student-athletes committed to GC just a few months ago, 8,000 miles away from campus, having never seen the campus before.
Possawat (Insee) Akarapan grew up in Bangkok, Thailand, but he always knew that he wanted to continue his collegiate tennis career in the U.S., though he was unsure which institution would be the best fit.
“To get to Goshen,” Akarapan said, “I was at the website called Universal Tennis Rating, where you put your skill level inside the website and it matches you with many colleges.”
Universal Tennis Rating is a global tennis player rating system intended to produce an objective, consistent, and accurate index of players’ skill in the game of tennis.
The system is used by all professional players in the Association of Tennis Professionals and the Women’s Tennis Association, and it is used by most college players worldwide.
The UTR database includes results from more than 8 million matches and 200+ countries, and Goshen College was among his list of colleges.
Akarapan considered many different institutions to continue his tennis career before deciding that Goshen College would be the best fit for him to continue his studies and athletic career, but he made that decision in the middle of the pandemic.
“Around three months ago,” Akarapan said, “I committed to Goshen, but I applied to many colleges [but I saw that] Goshen is one of my best fits.”
Akarapan cited the college’s virtual tour as one of the reasons he felt comfortable committing to a college over 8,000 miles away.
Before learning about Goshen College and its extracurriculars, Akarapan always knew that he wanted to go to college in the United States.
“I’ve had that goal since I was a sophomore in high school,” Akarapan said. “So I didn’t want to change that goal for COVID-19.”
Although COVID-19 is much more prominent in the United States than it is in Thailand, Akarapan’s parents were still supportive of his dreams to play tennis abroad.
“Before getting here, my parents were a bit worried,” Akarapan said. “Especially my mom, because she knows that COVID-19 in the U.S. and COVID-19 in Thailand are very different.”
While both Thailand and the U.S. have seen COVID-19 affect its people, the difference in recorded data is significant. As of Sept. 15, 2020, Thailand has only seen a total of 3,480 coronavirus cases, whereas the U.S. has recorded 6.61 million cases of COVID-19.
Knowing that coronavirus is widespread in the U.S., Akarapan has been taking the necessary precautions to ensure that he and his team can complete their fall season.
When Akarapan arrived in the U.S. on Aug. 5, he quarantined for 14 days.
“In Thailand, the whole case of COVID-19 is only [approximately] 3,000 people, the whole country,” Akarapan said. “But here, the Indiana state itself, is more than Thailand.” While Akarapan is eager to play, he is currently resting on the Maple Leaf bench until he receives a doctor’s approval to play following recent health issues.
Akarapan and the rest of the men’s tennis team are currently 2-4 in the season overall.