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Pair gives Bel Air tennis team foreign aid DTC


Camille Belliard and Peter Wulff traveled a long way to play tennis together at Bel Air High School -- about 3,000 miles.

Home for Belliard, 15, is France, and home for Wulff, 17, is Denmark. As American Field Service (AFS) exchange students, they have spent the last year living with local families and attending classes at Bel Air.

Neither spent much time on the sidelines back home, so both dove into sports at Bel Air. Together, they finished second in mixed doubles at the Harford County Tennis Tournament two weeks ago.

Bel Air coach Nancy Dove said she didn't put them together for any particular reason, but she has been pleasantly surprised with the result.

"They don't have organized tennis in either one of their counties," said Dove.

"They have club tennis, but not parks and rec like we're used to. When her [Camille's] parents came for a visit, they said, 'Look at all the tennis courts over here.' They saw more watching her play than they had ever seen at home."

Because of the few courts in Europe, neither Belliard nor Wulff had played much, if any, organized tennis.

"We would draw lines in the street and play without a net," said Wulff, whose sister Dorthe, 20, was also an exchange student. "I had only played in the streets with my friends before."

Belliard played a little more often than Wulff.

"I took one year of club in the fifth grade, but I played after that not so much. Last summer, I played every day for two hours with my mother."

The level of their games improved rapidly once they started playing every day. They quickly impressed their Bobcat teammates.

"I'm jealous," said Linda Frey, a senior doubles player. "They must have natural talent. Cami hits the ball really hard. So does Peter. They both have all the spins and everything."

Dove said that she has had varying success with exchange students, but has never had a moment's trouble from Belliard or Wulff.

"You never know when they come to the meeting in early March. Some of the exchange students don't make it, but these two are always here. They stay eligible, and they're really nice kids."

Belliard also played on the Bobcats' varsity field hockey team last fall, but Wulff, whose favorite sport is sailing, joined only the tennis team.

High school sports, in general, are new to both of them.

"It's very different here," said Wulff. "In Denmark, it's all club. There is nothing in high school."

The same is true in France, said Belliard, although she learned to play field hockey in a physical education class.

"I wasn't so bad, so one of the sports teachers asked some of us to play one day against another school. I did that for two years."

Off the courts, Belliard and Wulff have also been a hit with their teammates.

"There's a lot of conversation on the bus, asking them questions," said Dove. "That's always added interest. They're both so friendly. They're not shy. They get right in the middle of it."

The exchange students and their teammates have discovered that they have a lot in common. The two will return home in a few months, but both said they would like to come back someday.

Their new friends would like that, too.

"We had a lot of fun having them around," said Frey. "It's funny how much the same they are.

"Even though they have different attitudes, they laugh at the same things and they get a kick out of the same things. They're typical teen-agers. They really are."

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