Aug. 3, 2011
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
For Lobo Phil Anderson, the 2011 World University Games in Shenzhen, China are a chance to represent his Canadian roots. His University of New Mexico teammate, Carl Ho, has a double dose of roots in store for him.
Ho also is a Canadian playing tennis for the Canadian team. But Ho was born in Hong Kong and the roots of the Ho family run deep on that side of the Pacific Ocean. For Ho and Anderson, the games are a shot at serious competition that reflects some national pride.
It's also a family reunion for Ho.
"My parents were raised in Hong Kong and I was born in Hong Kong (Dec. 2, 1990)," said Ho. "I haven't been back for quite a while. I was around six-years-old. So, it will be nice to visit everyone. But I'll also walk around like a tourist and take a lot of pictures.
"My parents moved to Canada for better quality of lifestyle. Hong Kong is bunched up, very crowed. In Canada, you have a backyard."
Ho has grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins to visit. He also has a long flight that began today (Aug. 3). But while Ho beats Anderson in the "roots" department, Anderson will knock Ho's socks off in air mileage.
Ho leaves from his hometown in Richmond, British Columbia. Anderson lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The two cities are about 4,000 miles apart.
"It's a long flight, but it's worth it," said Anderson. "This is such a huge event to attend and representing your country makes it even more special. I can't wait to get there."
Oh, Anderson will do some waiting. His flight to Hong Kong goes through New York City.
The World University Games, for collegiate-type athletes from around the world, are held every other year. The 2011 Games in Shenzhen begin Aug. 12 and end Aug. 23. Shenzhen is a coastal city located near Hong Kong.
The Games include tennis, basketball, judo, weight lifting, diving, golf, volleyball, taekwondo, aerobics, badminton, swimming, soccer, table tennis, rhythmic gymnastics, fencing, sailing, artistic gymnastics, chess, water polo, cycling and beach volleyball.
Alan Dils, the Lobo men's tennis coach, says the Games give his Lobos a "neat" opportunity to represent their country. But there also is a selfish benefit for Dils. His Lobos will come back fit and match tough.
"It's a win-win situation," said Dils. "It's good for the team because this trip is right before school and they'll be training at a high level. It's also a neat deal for them to be representing their country at a premier event. The World University Games are a lot more prestigious in Canada than they are here. It's like the Olympics."
Said Ho: "The competition is going to be tough. I have to really prepare for this event. But it also gives me a head start going into my last season at UNM. It's like starting my senior season in July.
"I'm already getting prepared physically and mentally for big matches. This is the most prepared I'll ever be for a Lobo season and that's important because it's my last season as a Lobo."
The positives of the trip to Shenzhen are obvious for Ho and Anderson. But the long voyage doesn't come cheap. There is food and housing waiting for athletes when they get to the Games. But Ho and Anderson have to pay their travel costs.
The two Lobos worked tennis camps to earn a little spending money, but their parents also stepped up big time in order for them to represent Canada. "I couldn't do this without my parents," said Ho. "I'm pretty luck to go."
Ho said one challenge for him and Anderson would be adjusting to the weather, which is not British Columbia or Nova Scotia cool. "It's tropical, very hot," said Ho.
The two Lobos are expected to fly from Hong Kong directly back to UNM. For Anderson, that might not be such a bad deal. The flight will be several hours shorter.