Written by Dalton Tevlin/Assistant Sports Director
With a tennis program that has had such great success, the FIU tennis team is off to a sub-par start to their season. They may be off to a rocky start, but the future of FIU’s tennis program is bright.
The team has five new freshmen on the roster this year and the program needed to readjust after the departure of Andrea Lazarro and Nerma Caluk, two of the best players in FIU history. Lazaro was ranked as high as 29th in the nation in her senior season and her and Caluk made one of the deadliest duo’s in college tennis.
In the last season, the team lost the first three games. For their current season, they have already lost three matches out of their four games. Yet, there is still hope for the tennis team.
Kamila Umarova, an international business major, looks to be the future for FIU tennis at the forefront of freshman players. Originally from Tashkent, Uzbekistan Umarova has been adjusting to life in Miami.
“All the classes, homework, assignments, exams while traveling is really tough,” said Umarova.
Tennis coach Katarina Petrovic has praised the Student-Athlete Academic Center for the work they do to ensure student-athletes like Umarova have the tools they need to succeed on and off the court. Umarova said the SAAC is one of the biggest tools she utilizes when balancing her school work and her performance on the court.
“Everyone tries to help you, I don’t how I would survive without SAAC. All the tutors, all the people there are doing everything to help you,” said Umarova.
In their game against Stetson University, the freshman came away with a win in her singles match-up and a doubles win with senior Maryna Veksler. The duo of Umarova and Veksler is ranked #58 on the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Rankings list to start off the season, an impressive start considering Umarova is a freshman.
Doubles usually take some time to get used to for players but Umarova has shown great strides in her doubles game. Much like the duo of Lazarro and Caluk of previous seasons, Umarova and Veksler are looking to make an impact this season.
Umarova said she is fortunate to be playing with one of the leaders for the University’s tennis team and hopes to pick up a few things from Veksler to help her in the next 4 years.
“She knows what she is doing, she is very professional. I’m just lucky because from the
first time we met she feels me and I feel her,” said Umarova. “In doubles it’s very important to feel your partner. She is excellent.”
Umarova began the season as “shy” and was having trouble focusing on the court. But with the help of Veksler, the freshman has been able to become more confident.
“She makes me feel like, come on you are a professional player, you’re a part of this university and a part of this team you can do it and you will do it,” said Umarova.