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June 20, 2002

Love All in English

Some 100 kids are currently enrolled in a tennis center in Osaka where they take lessons in English. The Kids English Conversation Tennis School, a joint venture between the Kansai Tennis Association and NOVA, trains children from four to elementary school age. The course includes English classes where students learn tennis terms from a foreign teacher. The school hopes to foster Japanese stars who can fit in better than their predecessors on the international tennis circuit. Former top pro Naoko Sawamatsu said players' inability to speak English mentally handicaps them. "I was suspicious of players around me because I did not know what they were saying," she said. "My anxiety affected my games." The language barrier puts extra pressure on Japanese players competing at the international level. This is also no doubt true for recent high-profile Japanese stars who have been playing golf, football and baseball in Europe and the US.

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