***Anna Blagodarova led a successful Canadian junior tennis career before earning a scholarship to Texas A&M University. Moldova born, she was bred by Canadian coaches and competed in several National Championships for Ontario. Thriving in school, she broke several school records including being the third player in A&M history to achieve 100 singles victories. Having graduated with a degree in International Communications, she spent a year working in Denver, Colorado before returning to native Toronto. Although she no longer labels herself as a “tennis player”, she is one of the most interesting personalities to have ever played on the circuit. ***
What are some skills that you feel you acquired through years of playing competitive high-level tennis?
Being a competitive high-level athlete taught me the importance of goal setting and hard work in order to achieve those goals. With a hectic training schedule I found it very important being able to prioritize your tasks and manage your time wisely.
Tell us a little bit about how much of a role your parents played in your tennis life.
My parents played a very significant role in my tennis career, and not just financially. From the very beginning my father was actively involved in my training schedule both on-court and off. Being a former athlete himself, he taught me how to compete and pushed me to work harder and demand more of myself. Most importantly my parents encouraged me to go to University in the United States and were very supportive throughout the process.
What advice would you give to someone about to go to school on a US tennis scholarship?
The best advice that I can give to someone who is in the process of choosing a University is to go on recruiting visits and pay close attention to the actions and interaction between their “prospective” team members. It is important to feel good chemistry with the team, as you will spend the majority of your University years surrounded by your team, coaches and athletic staff. Secondly, I suggest selecting a University that meets your athletic expectations as well as educational needs.
Reflecting on your tennis past, would you do anything differently?
No. I am proud of everything that I have achieved. My committment to this sport has granted me many valuable experiences and introduced me to a lot of incredible people along the way. Ok, Maybe I would try to be less emotional on the tennis court 🙂
In your opinion, what do you think some misconceptions about tennis are?
I know that most people only see tennis as an individual sport and can get discouraged by that. However, when I played for the women’s tennis team at Texas A&M University I got to experience tennis as a team sport and enjoyed it a lot more in that setting. I think it’s important for the younger players to know that there is that option of playing tennis and enjoying the competition, while feeling like you are a part of a team.
What did you feel you missed out on most as a teenager with a hectic practice schedule?
I guess I just missed out on down time with my school friends, but that never really bothered me because most of my closest friends were involved in tennis and I got to see them every day. Things outside of tennis that I really wanted to be a part of, I tried hard to fit into my busy schedule.
Do you feel the sacrifice to your family life, social life etc. was beneficial?
Absolutely! Tennis opened up many opportunities and introduced me to life-long friends. Thanks to this sport, I got the chance to travel all over the world and now that I have completed my eligibility and no longer train at such an intense level, I feel a sense of accomplishment and equipped to take on the next chapter in my life.