Coach says senior leadership contributes to the success of the tennis team

The FIU tennis team has a shaky start to their season, but expect to make a comeback

By Dalton Tevlin/Staff Writer

 

The women’s tennis team continues to have tremendous success, coming off the best season in the school’s history. Despite their recent loss to 21st ranked UCF, this Panthers squad stands at a solid 10-2 and looks to make a strong run at the conference championship.

The team also consists of three seniors: Andrea Lazaro, Mina Markovic and Nerma Caluk, who have been essential to helping their underclassman teammates improve.

“We have three seniors and the main focus was for them to teach the young ones, try to be team leaders and get them involved in our system because once you get adapted it goes easy,” said Coach Katarina Petrovic.

The three seniors have been great team leaders but also great on-the-court examples as well. Lazaro, a senior from Barcelona, continues to shine coming off her Conference USA Player of the year award last season. Lazaro, along with her doubles partner and fellow senior Caluk are undefeated in doubles this year as well.

FIU’s Andrea Lazaro warms up prior to the match as the FIU Panthers faced the Brown University Bears at University Park in Miami, Florida on March 27, 2016. (Photo courtesy of FIU Athletics)

Lazaro can be described as a true leader to this Panthers squad. Her coach describes her as a player who projects her positivity to the team and “always wants more” for her teammates. A characteristic that Coach Petrovic says makes her job as a coach much easier.

Caluk was a player that, before this season, did not find great doubles success. She slowly adapted to Coach Petrovic’s system and has proven not only that she can do it, but be dominant as well.

“Finally, she bought into our system, when she decided to step up and do simple drills that we do in the practices. They are undefeated in their matches,” said Petrovic.

Petrovic describes tennis as a true mental game, before each match she tells her players to “be positive and ambitious.”

“The court is your canvas, so go and paint it” is a phrase that Coach Petrovic echoes to her players consistently; reminding them the court is theirs for the taking and to make it their own.

Although the team was handed a lost last week at UCF, it may be one of the best things to happen to them. Coach Petrovic feels they have already made the necessary adjustments heading into their upcoming matchups.

“Sometimes it’s important to lose, it puts you in an area where you get to see where you need to improve,” said Petrovic. “Last year we didn’t have that, we just continued to win until the conference finals so we definitely have seen the difference the last few practices.”

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