What happens in Finland stays in Finland — unless you're a tennis player of course. Players from Georgia Southern, University of North Carolina Wilmington, University of West Alabama, and Boston University made appearances in the Finnish National Championships.
Ristomatti Lanne, a former Georgia Southern Men's tennis player, and West Alabama's Henrik Sinkko and Julius Kaverinen proved victorious in the championships on the men's side of the draw.
Lanne was the captain of the 2015-2016 team and led the Eagles to a 15-8 record and held a total of 16 out of 19 match wins; Lanne knows what it takes to be number one at a top institution, and, now he is also number one in Finland.
"It's very nice to see other college players in tournaments in Finland," Lanne said.
Not only did the men's side of the championships see collegiate players, but so did the women's. In the finals of the women's singles, Boston University's Johanna Hyoty fell short to another Finnish player, but won the doubles title with Annika Sillanpaa, a junior at UNCW.
Hyoty, a member of the 2016 graduating class from BU, accumulated her fair share of accolades as a Terrior, as she was named a member of the Patriot League's 25th Anniversary Team, a three-time Patriot Player of the Year (2014, 2015, 2016), two-time Patriot League Doubles team of the year (2015, 2016), and ended the 2016 season with a year-end ITA ranking of 16, to name a few.
Lesley Sheehan, Director of Tennis for BU, told HERO Sports Hyoty also won, "the prestigious Gretchen Schyler Award, presented to the top Female Student Athlete at Boston University. Johanna was not only an outstanding student and athlete, but she is a first class person who any coach would love to have on their team."
Finland's tennis players absolutely shine, not only in their own country, but also in their college tennis programs abroad.
West Alabama's former freshman duo of Sinkko and Kaverinen held their own in the Finnish Championships as well, defeating Lanne and his partner along the way to win the doubles draw. As this pair will be rising sophomores for the Tigers, this program will undoubtedly use their victory to their advantage. When players see success in the summer, it can propel them to have strong a strong fall tournament season and, in turn, succeed in the spring.
Playing other collegiate athletes, outside the college tennis season, can oftentimes add stress or pressure players feel during a match, which isn't typical of professionals.
"It is a bit different to play other college players because I know they've been taught the same stuff and maybe I can't use 'college tricks' against them," Lanne describes. "Playing them has some extra tension because you play guys that your teammates and coaches know and have an idea who you have you won or lost against."
Lanne also said college tennis typically does not have the same reputation in Finland it does in the states.
"Here [in Finland,] too many people think college is not a good option for players, and it motivates me to prove them wrong," Lanne said. "I hope others will have the same mentality and want to give the same, positive image."