Alexander Del Valle // Contributing Writer
For freshman tennis player Ulyana Grib, being nearly 12 hours away from her home in Minsk, Belarus, has not affected her gentle mindset one bit.
“Here in the United States there are more opportunities, coaches, tennis centers, [and] the weather here is better for tennis,” said Grib. “I miss my family, but not like home or my country or my city. Of course I love it but it’s not that hard for me.”
Traveling is nothing new for the tennis international because starting at the age of 13, she began traveling alone with her coach Igor Ibrisbegovic for about two weeks every month to participate in tournaments.
Grib said she received several offers from other schools before deciding to visit FIU in March 2016 after exchanging text messages with Head Coach Katarina Petrovic. The freshman was pleased with her decision to bring her talent to Miami because she said she likes “the weather, the campus, and the coaches are very nice.”
It is rare to find a tennis player that is skillful and strong on all tennis surface. They can be discovered in the ATP World Tour or WTA (Women’s Tennis Association), but in regards to junior tennis players, they are often proficient and in maybe one or two.
When it comes to Grib, however, her bread and butter is on the hard court.
“I like hard court the most, which is good for the U.S. [since] they usually play on hard. I like to play more aggressive to win,” said Grib.
Despite coming in 4th and 6th place in the world championships and also coming in 3rd at the u16 European championships, Grib is not looking ahead into her possible professional career just yet; she said she has an obligation and a job to do with the tennis team for 4 years and is ready to do whatever it takes to make the team successful.
“I want to improve everything. I want to improve my forehand, and I believe my backhand may be a little better, but remember these are not weaknesses,” she said. “Also the thing you always have to improve is your mindset. I consider myself a mentally strong person.”
Ulyana also said the team has placed some very attainable goals in front of them.
“Our number one goal as a team is to win the conference, and we are working for it and will continue to work hard to achieve this goal,” she said. “If we’re able to achieve this, then we want to reach the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament.”
Grib and the rest of women’s tennis team will kickoff their regular season on Jan. 23, 2017 at 1 p.m. at the FIU tennis courts.