UMary’s Chloe Chong traveled more than 8,700 miles from Selangor, Malaysia, to Bismarck to chase an opportunity on the tennis courts.

“I think it’s just like a dream come true,” the Marauders’ sophomore said. “I’ve been working my whole life to come here, and I came here. It’s been good so far, and I really enjoy it, I think that’s most rewarding thing since I’ve worked I’ve so hard.”

Chong’s goal from a young age has been to play college tennis in America, giving her the ability to earn a degree and play the game she loves at the same time. That’s an opportunity that doesn’t exist in Malaysia.

“I think the goal was to play college tennis from the start,” Chong said.

Chong isn’t alone. Four of UMary’s six players are international athletes, giving people like Chong a support system to lean on.

“It’s been a big help, especially since we all come from the same place,” Chong explained. “Coming from so far away to America to play college tennis, I think we bond really well based on that idea alone. We know like the sacrifices that we made.”

Head Coach Vida Saliendra knows those sacrifices well after moving to the United States from the Philippines nearly 40 years ago.

“They come here not knowing anybody,” Marauders’ coach Vida Saliendra said. “They kind of lean on each other for support on campus and out of campus, so my international students they’re basically a close-knit group.”

Chong’s path to North Dakota hasn’t been easy, but she’s making it look that way earning first-team all-conference honors last season, with a combined record of 13-4 this year and representing her family and her country along the way

“They’re proud of me. They’re very proud of me,” Chong said.