From Fiji To Arkansas

Fiji is a small island located in the Pacific Ocean. It is 6,744 miles from the United States and has a population of 881,065 people according to World Bank. Henderson
18 Oct 2014 09:17
From Fiji To Arkansas
Annie Shannon with Amanda Korinihona at Henderson University, USA.

Fiji is a small island located in the Pacific Ocean. It is 6,744 miles from the United States and has a population of 881,065 people according to World Bank.

Henderson has two Fijian students who play tennis and a first year graduate student, who assists Brenda Joiner, the head tennis coach, as assistant coach.

These students are Annie Shannon, freshman business management major, Amanda Korinihona, junior pre-law major, and Daneric Hazelman, first year graduate school assistant coach.

All three of these students came from Lautoka, Fiji, where they grew up together.

Coach Joiner first heard about Shannon through John Ragney who coaches the Arkadelphia High School tennis team and who also knows Dan O’Connell, tennis coach at the New Mexico Military Institute.

“Coach O’Connell recruits many tennis players from the Pacific to join his tennis team but also helps other schools recruit them,” Joiner said.

New Mexico Military Institute has a lot of students from Fiji according to Joiner.

Ragney connected Joiner with Shannon.

“Her family liked the idea of her coming to a four year school, like putting down the roots and making a home here,” Joiner said.

Ragney also let Joiner know about Korinihona a sophomore at the junior college and she started talking to both of them. She also found out about Hazelman who was looking for a graduate assistantship.

“I was interested in all three of them,” Joiner said.

Joiner said that Shannon knowing Korinihona and Hazelman were both going to be assisting Henderson helped finalize her enrollment to the school.

Shannon began playing tennis at the age of seven. Both her mother and her father played tennis. She says her father is an inspiration to her because he always encouraged her to do her best and try harder each and every day.

The transition from Fiji to the States has been different for her.

“It’s been a cultural shock,” Shannon said.

“People here are more direct,” Shannon said. “They really tell you what they’re feeling.”

Before the game Shannon listens to music and does sprints so it’ll help her begin the game feeling good.

In the future, Shannon is hoping to go back home but isn’t for sure.

“I don’t know, it might change as more ideas go by,” Shannon said.

Korinihona lived in Fiji for seven years and graduated from there as well. In 2012 she received a full scholarship to play tennis for New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, N.M., where she graduated this past May.

“Do I like it here? Yes I do,” Korinihona said.

Korinihona is happy to have someone from home with her because it makes her feel like a part of home is here.

“I miss the food and the beach,” Korinihona said.

Tennis for Korinihona is something that helps her build confidence and learn how to communicate.

Before a game she likes to do warm-ups and pack her bags.

“I have to pack my bag,” Kornihona said. “If I’m missing anything in my bag I feel unprepared.”

Korinihona is ready to play against her old school and she is certain that Henderson is going to win.

Shannon and Korinihona will be playing doubles together this year according to Joiner. She said that they have really good chemistry with each other and that helps a lot with the tennis matches.

Hazelman was the head coach for the men’s tennis team at New Mexico’s junior college before he came to Henderson. As soon as he saw the opportunity to come to Henderson he jumped on it without a second thought.

Hazelman played tennis for Roswell for two years and then headed to Carthage College in Wisconsin and received his undergraduate degree. He then coached for New Mexico as a head coach and now is Joiner’s graduate assistant.

“To be back with them [Shannon and Korinihona] in the United States at the same place coaching them is a blessing,” Hazelman said.

The next two teams that Henderson’s tennis team will be facing is Texas A&M in Texarkana, Texas and New Mexico Military Institute in Plano, Texas.

“It will be like a Fiji reunion,” Joiner said.



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