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Swiss tennis player finds niche at Calvin
By Lynn Bolt Rosendale
Rafael Siebenschein
Rafael Siebenschein (Wurenlos, Switzerland)

Rafael Siebenschein has always been interested in seeking out new experiences. That’s why the Switzerland native had no problem coming to Lynden, Wash.—a place he had never heard of—to attend high school as an exchange student.

“I was assigned to Lynden Christian High School,” he said. “It was so different than anything else I was used to.”

Siebenschein grew up Jewish in the town of Wurenlos, about 15 minutes northeast of Zurich, where he played soccer.

“In Lynden, most of the people are Dutch Reformed,” he said. “People prayed at school; everybody went to church, and everybody seemed to know each other—and I was accepted right in.”

While an exchange student at Lynden Christian, Siebenschein played tennis for Lynden Public High School, as Lynden Christian did not have a tennis team. “I had played tennis at home as a hobby for five or six years,” he said. “I was tired of soccer.”

There he won the league and district title and placed fourth at state.

Coming to Calvin this year as a freshman was an easy transition, he said.

“While at Lynden, I became a Christian,” he said. “I wanted to go to a Christian college. It was hard on my parents. They were disappointed that I wanted to come back [to the U.S.], but they supported me.”

Siebenschein was interested in furthering his pursuit of tennis here as well. He claimed the No. 2 singles position and was a partner on the No. 1 doubles team.

“Practicing at 6:30 in the morning was kind of hard,” he said, “but we had a lot of fun. It was also a chance for me to develop some very good friendships.”

It also gave Siebenschein a chance to see a bit more of the country.

“I liked the trips to South Carolina and Wisconsin,” he said.

The men’s tennis team returns a solid line-up for next year after placing third behind Hope and Kalamazoo this year.

“That’s about where we expected to be,” said Siebenschein. “We’re getting stronger than we have been in years before, and we’re getting closer to Kalamazoo and Hope.”

After a summer back in Switzerland, Siebenschein will be back in the fall.

“I really enjoyed my year here,” he said. “The classes are challenging. I especially liked the DCM (Developing a Christian Mind) and religion/theology classes. We had interesting discussions about different backgrounds.”