Webster tennis player reaches six countries through her studies


Imagine leaving the country to go to high school. Imagine taking a job in a country where you do not know anybody. Imagine traveling to six different countries before graduating college.

It is safe to say Jess Wright knows a lot about travel. Originally from Orange, New South Wales, Australia, the senior has traveled the world while studying human rights and international relations.

At 15, her family moved from Australia to France for two years where Wright attemded high school. She later moved back to Australia to finish high school.

After finishing high school, Wright went to Malawi, Africa for six months before starting college in Paris.

After one semester in Paris, Wright decided she wanted to  study at Webster University Geneva. However, classes didn’t start until September, so Wright had eight months to spare. She used that time to go to China to teach children.

Wright taught her Chinese students English through playing games and other fun activities.

“It was more about instilling them with love of learning English because the Chinese education system is very much like you would imagine. It’s very very strict and long, long hours and they work really, really hard,” Wright said. “My aim, while I was there, was to let them see that learning a new language can be fun and exciting and useful.”

She said in Asia, there is a demand for native English speakers. She explained to them that one day they probably will need to learn english just like we will probably need to learn Spanish and Mandarin.

After her time in China, Wright completed her freshman year in Geneva. During her first semester as a sophomore, Wright decided to study abroad at Webster University’s campus in Thailand.

“I really like going to countries and living there and learning about the culture,” Wright said. “When you just travel somewhere for a little bit of time, you get to see a lot of things, but you don’t really get to understand the people who live there or how they live. I think when you study abroad, you can really immerse yourself in all of that.”

To get acclimated, Wright said she got involved in the community in Thailand and continued to volunteer as a teacher.

She returned to Geneva until coming to Webster University’s main campus this semester for her graduating year.

So far, Wright isn’t having much trouble adjusting to America. She said it is very similar to home, but one thing really stands out to her when she first got here.

“We don’t have as many big things as you guys,” Wright said. “Everything is big here. Huge restaurants, huge supermarkets, huge this, huge that … Everything is enormous.”

It was at the Webster Groves campus where Wright began to play more tennis at a competitive level again.

Wright said she continued to play tennis when she went to study in Geneva, but stopped playing as much to focus on school. None of the abroad campuses offer collegiate sports, so she was only able to play in a few tournaments and spent some time with a club team.

Wright started playing tennis around the age of 10 back home in Australia. She played in many International Tennis Federation (ITF) Tournaments and won some National Tournaments in the under-16 division.

Wright’s first collegiate tournament was the Webster University Invitational. The Gorloks competed against Missouri Baptist University (MBU), St. Louis College of Pharmacy (STLCOP) and Lindenwood University-Belleville (LBU).

Webster women’s tennis team captain Monica Behrle teamed up with Wright for their doubles match. This was the first time the two played together in competition.

Behrle and Wright won their first two matches, beating LBU 8-3 and MBU 8-2. The two lost their final match to another MBU pairing 8-3.

Wright said she enjoyed her first collegiate tournament and feels with more time, she and Behrle will get even better.

Behrle said she thinks if they had more time to play together, they would have come out on top in their doubles tournament.

“They were pretty tough competition, but I think since it was our first time playing together, including practice time, we hadn’t really gotten in a groove together,” Behrle said. “I think if we had been together longer we would’ve gotten first place.”

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