WAYNE — When Terry Wei showed up the first day of tennis practice with three top-of-the-line rackets, Eastern Christian coach James Uitermarkt figured he had something special.
In a tennis sense, he didn’t.
It turned out Wei barely had played the game.
But the 16-year-old freshman transplant from Beijing still brought something special to the Eagles. He traveled some 7,000 miles from his parents, moving in with a host family in search of a better life. And he brought with him a personality that has made up for his lack of court experience.
Uitermarkt smiled whenever talking about the “colorful” youngster, one of roughly 80 international students at the North Haledon school. Although he did have difficulty putting Wei’s eccentricity into words.
But he did say Wei generally keeps his teammates entertained — and the second doubles player always is bashing America’s version of Chinese food.
“Terry is very outgoing,” said Aaron DeRosa, his doubles partner. “I’ve never seen him get mad. When he messes up, all he does is laugh at himself.”
In August, Wei relocated to the U.S. with the intention of eventually attending college here. He plans to return to his native country after earning his degree to help with his parents’ businesses. They are general managers of different companies — a technology firm and a merchandise management business.
Wei was excited when the idea of traveling halfway around the world was broached. China’s ultra-competitive academic environment wasn’t his thing.
“I’ve always liked sports, but in China there isn’t much time for that,” Wei said in still-improving English. “It’s just study, study, study.
“Every day, all you know is study, homework, sleep, eat. In America, there’s time to do sports, too.”
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