The tradition runs deep at Oklahoma State University and through the culture of Cowgirl tennis.
The past experiences of others have helped the Cowgirls become an outstanding freshman in Mananchaya Sawangkaew, originally from Singburi city, Thailand.
Former Big 12 and ITA All-American Player of the Year Bunyawi Thamchaiwat is from Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand. As decisions about Sawangkaew’s future loom, Thamchaiwat spoke to him about the tradition of OSU tennis and what life would be like from one native of Thailand to another.
âI talked a lot with Bunyawi (Thamchaiwat) about coming here,â Sawangkaew said. “She is also from Thailand and said how good everything is and that I should come to school here.”
Sawangkaew was recruited by other top tennis programs in the country. In addition to seeing Bunyawi’s success and growth during his time at OSU, Mananchaya also pays tribute to the head coach Chris Young and the program that was designed to bring him to Stillwater.
âI chose here because I saw so many great players on the team, and Chris (Young) was so nice and kind to me. Chris sent me messages about coming to school. here. He talked about the quality of the players and the facilities. and how coming here would help my professional goals. Chris’ confidence in me gives me confidence in my tennis. Also, the fact that a Thai tennis player should have success here he gets it and that made me choose to come here. “
Sawangkaew made his way to cowgirl country with a WTA ranking of # 567 in singles and # 665 in doubles and entered college with an ITF junior ranking of 14 and won a 15km professional title in single and double.
Mananchaya started playing tennis at the age of four. When she was 12, she moved to Bangkok to continue her education and tennis.
âI started playing when I was four,â Sawangkaew said. “I started playing tennis because my dad and my sister were playing and I started watching them. I really liked it after seeing them play.”
The pursuit of dreams did not cost Sawangkaew much. She left her family when she was 12 and they could only visit her about once a month.
âI lived in the dormitory away from my family and attended an academy,â Sawangkaew said. âIt was so hard for me to be away from my family. There would be days when I would cry because I missed my family so much, but it helped me grow up, stay alone and get used to it. . “
Mananchaya played at high levels of competition before coming to college.
âWhen I played Grand Slam tournaments in the juniors, I was able to gain a lot of experience because I had to play against the best players,â said Sawangkaew. “It was difficult for me, and I tried to do my best. I lost and I came home to improve myself so I could face them again. My goal was to be in the 100. first in singles and doubles. “
Now that she has brought her talents to Stillwater, Sawangkaew has high aspirations for her time as a cowgirl and beyond.
âI have worked harder here than ever,â Sawangkaew said. All is well. My teammates have helped me a lot. I want to play in college and be an All-American. I want to be a professional afterwards. “
Coming to a college in a new country can be a challenge, but Sawangkaew has the right people around her to make Stillwater feel right at home on and off the pitch.
âHaving teammates from all over has helped me train against other styles and it has improved my tennis a lot,â said Sawangkaew. âMy teammates helped me a lot with my English and my homework. I asked them to explain things and they helped me. I tried to change the language. I never really spoke English before and it’s difficult. My teammates and coaches have helped me a lot. “
For now, Sawangkaew’s major is not declared, but she wants to pursue a university education. Her favorite thing about Stillwater so far is the food.
As the Cowgirls prepare for the fall for another season, Sawangkaew is happy to be a part of the team.
âI have a professional tournament coming up and I’m excited to play,â Sawangkaew said. “I’m excited to play for the team in January. I’m happy to be here and to be part of a team.”