Senior Women’s Tennis Sensation Igniting Racquet Flames in the Spring Stretch
Certainly nothing less will be noted when reflecting back on the career of senior Diana Ivanova when all is said and done in her tennis career for the Lady Monarchs come May 2013. And those words reflect her play and intensity on an every match basis.
Leading her team to a perfect 4-0 record at home thus far this season, the Moscow, Russian native shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Ivanova sports a 2-2 singles and 2-1 doubles record through her first four home matches. The team captain and reigning first team All CAA conference honoree gave insight into how she feels physically on the court these days and how her conditioning is holding up in recent matches.
“For every player I would say it’s a little hard to adjust because we have matches almost every weekend. So my body’s trying to adjust to this hard and intense atmosphere,” Ivanova said. “I was injured but I’m getting better, so I’m almost recovered.”
The team recently completed a three match stint in Texas [Fort Worth, Denton, and Arlington] and don’t come back home for three weeks. Ivanova looked forward to playing away from the comforting confines of Folkes-Stevens Center.
Some of the goals and expectations on the court for the team in Ivanova’s words include winning as many matches as they can and to perform well in their new home, the Conference-USA.
“It’s our chance to show ourselves to all the universities, to prove that we’re a great team and we can compete with such good schools,” Ivanova said.
The team captain has had a pretty consistent year in the winner’s spectrum, especially with her doubles partner Melissa Esnal-Olguin. Ivanova admitted how much fun she has out there with her sophomore teammate.
“She’s a great doubles player. I think we understand each other pretty well on the court and know what to expect from each other,” she said. “So we play pretty well together and last year we had a pretty good record also.”
The Russian native has been working on some of the key aspects of her game with head coach Dominic Manilla and assistants Tony Neykova and John Brinkman including basic live ball drills. With coach Manilla, the team’s focus is on forehands, backhands and basket drills. Nekova assisted with those drills, live balls, and doubles while Brinkman was in charge of their fitness level.
As far as the necessities needed to get her to that fitness level, Ivanova gave insight into what is in her refrigerator these days and the types of foods she consumes in order to compete at a maximum level.
“I try to keep a lot of vegetables and fruits in my fridge, also yogurts and milk. So I try to eat healthy,” she admitted. “I’ll eat maybe pasta the evening before the match, so it helps [me] to get some proteins in my body.”
“I prefer to listen to some music which pumps me up [and get] energized. I prefer to listen to Bass Hunter before the matches,” Ivanova said. Basshunter [born Jonas Erik Altberg] is a Swedish-born singer-songwriter, record producer, and DJ based out of Europe.
Perhaps it goes without saying that in almost every collegiate sport, seniors generally take the leadership role in the locker room. But Ivanova always seemed like the strong, silent type, while her play on the court usually does the talking for her. And this year with new additions on the roster, including Nikol Hristova and Ivana Vukovic, Ivanova is taking on more of a lead by example role for her teammates.
“With most of the freshman, I just try to be an example for them. Sometimes yes vocally, but actions talk for themselves. I try to just show them how they should act and what the coaches [are] expecting out of them,” Ivanova said. “So I just try to be a support for them and help in anything they need.”
On her plans after she walks across the stage after her career wraps up: I’m studying accounting and finance. So for this moment, I will try get a master’s degree in accounting and will try to find a job in that field.”
With eight other players on her team, the team captain will try to be the one who stirs the straw towards their success. Expect a 100 percent intensified effort on the court in all of her schedule’s matches: nothing more, and certainly nothing less.
Ivanova and the Lady Monarchs return home Saturday, Feb. 23 at 12 p.m. to take on Richmond and the following day at 10 a.m. against Penn.
By: Brian Jerry