Dzina Milovanovic, a junior
women's tennis player from Serbia, talks to us about the exciting season they
have ahead and Serbian traditions she enjoyed when she went home for the break:
Q: Being from Serbia, how did you hear about Pepperdine and why did you choose to come here?
A: I played international junior tennis tournaments and there were two tournaments in Florida where college coaches usually come out. These two tournaments were how I first got in touch with schools and eventually Pepperdine.
Q: How were your first two tennis seasons at Pepperdine?
A: I think that every season is special in its own way. My first season at Pepperdine was a completely new experience of playing not just for yourself but for your team and fellow teammates who always have your back. Competing with this new approach is always exciting. During the second season, I experienced some ups and downs due to my knee injury. However, I had a lot of support from the girls and coaches, which made it easier to recover and get back to playing. Overall, the last two years were amazing and definitely something I never expected coming into college.
Q: How do you feel being a junior now and entering this championship season?
A: Time flies! It seems like I was a freshman not that long ago. I am very excited for this season and new experiences with the girls. We have a great team this year and I think we can do really well if we keep working hard every day.
Q: With so many new players this year, how has the team dynamic changed?
A: The team is definitely different from previous years, but I think everyone is getting along pretty well so far. Women's tennis at Pepperdine is known as the most "international" sports team at Pepperdine. We are all used to adversity, different backgrounds and opinions. At the end of the day, being so far away from home we are like a big family here and always have each other's back.
Q: Having reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championships two years in a row, what are you, as a team, striving for this year?
A: Our ultimate goal is to go all the way and win the NCAAs. However, I think we are aware that along the way, our focus should be on giving our best, training and doing things the right way.
Q: What are your personal goals for the season?
A: My personal goal for this season is to stay consistent and healthy, to improve certain aspects of my game, give my best every day and be there for my teammates.
Q: What do you hope to do after graduating from Pepperdine?
A: That's a good question! There are a lot of options but I am still not really sure. Hopefully, I will figure it out soon.
Q: What was it like going home to Serbia for the holidays?
A: Holidays are just a great excuse to get a break from everything and go home. It's always a great feeling going back to Serbia and seeing my family and friends.
Q: What traditions do you have in Serbia for the holidays?
A: Holidays back home are similar to the ones in the States. Some of the differences are that a majority of the Serbian population celebrates Christmas on January 7th instead of December 25th. We also have a family holiday called a "Patron Saint Day" which is a ritual celebration of a family's own patron saint. During this holiday, families remember their ancestors who celebrated the same saint while also preparing lots of food and different specialties.