The 19-year-old Serb Bojana Markovic had joined the University of Texas in July last year and she has started her sophomore season as the Longhorn, hoping to improve her game even more and deliver some important points for her squad.
After a short junior career (she had struggled financially as many other young players), Bojana was trying to make the first steps on the pro circuit and she had reached the final of the $10,000 Vrnjacka Banja event at home in Serbia in 2016 as a qualifier, followed by another semi-final in Tunisia in November.
Bojana had played a lot of tournaments in 2017 but the results were just not there and she decided to take her career in a different direction, embracing a collegiate tennis and finding her place in the strong Longhorn squad.
Bojana was kind to talk with us about her career so far, difficulties she had to pass in home country during her development, experience at the University of Texas and expectations for the next couple of seasons, and here is what she had to say:
When did you start playing and who introduced you to tennis? I started playing tennis when I was seven years old.credit: courtesy University of Texas Athletics Photography ALSO READ: Shanghai 2010: Andy Murray downs Roger Federer for the perfect debut
My father (Nebojsa Markovic) wanted me to try it. After a short junior career, what made you choose College instead of trying to pursue pro success and what attracted you the most at The University of Texas? I did not have enough money to play pro tennis, so the best decision for me was to play college tennis.
I am also getting a good education here at Texas, and that is why I thought it was a good decision. Head coach Howard Joffe was the main reason I decided to go to The University of Texas. I liked the way he talked to me and the plan he made with me.
Tell us something about your regular day at The University of Texas and is it hard to make a balance between education and training? Sometimes in the morning, I have a private practice, followed by classes in school and team practice.
After practice a few couple days a week, we have conditioning or weights. It is hard to keep up with school and tennis at the same time. It is a challenge and that is why I like it. It will give me a lot of experience for anything else that I will do in my life.
You joined the Longhorns a year ago, what have been the segments of your game that you improved the most in the last 13 months and what makes you the better player now? I have improved in all areas of my game but especially my doubles and serve.
My way of thinking has changed. The most important thing is that I am growing up as a person. What has been the most memorable moment of your career to this point? There are a lot of memorable moments, but the one that stands out is when we played against Stanford and beat them last season.
Since that victory happened, I felt how close I am to my team and my coaches. And I would not change that for anything. What are your plans before the start of the new collegiate season, and how do you spend the summer months? I want to keep practicing as hard as possible to be ready for the season and play even better than last year.
Over the summer, I practiced every day. I also went on a vacation to Greece. It was nice having free time for myself. My goal is to play more pro tournaments next summer. You opened the fall season at Debbie Southern Fall Classic with a hard-fought win over Shiori Fukuda.
Tell us something about that match and your plans for the new season and also how you prepared for it? That match was not easy at all. It was really long. I had no idea what was going to happen until the end. I lost the first set and I thought it would be hard to get the second one, so I was really fighting the best way I could.
I ran to every single ball even though I knew I wasn’t going to get to all of them. I think that is one reason why I won that match. We are really working hard as a team, and I am sure we are going to be ready for the season.
We are doing conditioning, weights and practicing. We are working on our singles and doubles, and that work will make this team really good this season. Name the players who had the greatest influence on your career? I would say Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic.
The way they were fighting as kids despite having nothing to help them go through really hard times, I think that is something that everyone can look up to and admire. What is your game style and which shots do you rely on the most? My game style is to be aggressive.
The shot that I most rely on is my backhand down the line. Talk us through your experience and the atmosphere at the professional level compared to Collegiate tennis. In professional tennis, most of the time you have people do everything for you.
In college tennis, you do everything for yourself and you grow up as a person while gaining a lot of experience on how to live life on your own. What goals do you want to accomplish in the next three years? In the next three years, I want to finish graduate from The University of Texas, win the Big 12 Conference every year and win the NCAA Championship with my teammates.
Olga Danilovic and Ivana Jorovic are the biggest young star of women's tennis in Serbia but tell us something more about difficulties to develop a decent tennis career in the country with only a few pro tournaments during the season and with the lack of facilities outside the few biggest cities. Everyone has different conditions when they are kids.
I did not have much and I could not practice as much as other kids. I think it is important to have someone to help you. In countries like Serbia, you just need someone else to push you, because there is not enough good conditions to play pro tennis there.