Coming from the Adelaide in state of South Australia, freshman Masha Lobanova joins the ranks of the UW-Milwaukee women’s tennis team.
Lobanova never originally played tennis as a kid.
“Originally, I was doing gymnastics, and I lost interest in that,” she said. “And so my dad wanted to get my sister and I into a new sport, and tennis is really popular in Australia. So we found a coach, and we liked the coach, so were taking tennis lessons and we were enjoying that.”
Lobanova said that growing up in Australia helped her tennis than if she had grown up in a different part of the world, and a very different experience to the Midwest.
“Being in Australia, I (was) able to play tennis all year round, because the weather’s so great,” Lobanova said. “I (could) play outdoors most of the time, which is different to places in other countries, where indoor tennis is a big thing, or especially in Wisconsin. So playing in Australia I got used to outdoor conditions.”
Representing a team is nothing knew for Lobanova, who participated in several “team” events back in Australia.
“When I was 12, I was selected to represent my state in a national championship,” she said. “It was were we played against the other states of Australia, and I think we came 5th overall. I also represented my state in other events when I was 14.”
Despite going to school in a different country, this wasn’t the first time Lobanova had been to the US.
“I went to Florida for four weeks on holiday last year and I enjoyed hat. It was really different, because it was my first time being in America. And the weather was really warm.”
Even though she has been to America, Lobanova said that something she was looking forward to, along with getting to know and grow with her teammates, was to experience American holidays that aren’t celebrated back home.
“I’m looking forward to playing tennis in the spring because that’s our main season, and spending more time with the tennis team when we go away for our tennis trips, because that’s been fun,” she said. “I also (want to) explore Milwaukee a bit more, going to shops and doing more sight seeing around here. I’m also looking forward to Halloween, Thanksgiving. Just the stuff that people celebrate here that we don’t in Australia.”
Lobanova praised the head coach as one of her reasons for attending UWM.
“She’s really nice and she’s young, normally a lot of the other coaches I’ve spoken to are older. I heard that the team got along really well here, so that’s also why I chose to go here.”
Lobanova started off her college career convincingly, dropping just one game in her opening match in Iowa.
“It was a really good experience,” Lobanova said. “I wasn’t expecting to get as much support as I did from my team members, which was really good. It was just really exciting as well.”
Even with the easy scoreline, Lobanova said it wasn’t an easy match.
“At the start, I was really nervous in my first tournament, but as I played more and more matches, I just, my nerves settled down a bit, and it became more fun and competitive.”
Off the court, Lobanova has tough ambitions academically.
“My intended major is actuarial science. I’m also, if I don’t want to go into actuarial science, I’d like to go into statistics.”
She said that she looked into aspects of the school before arriving, so what she come up against wasn’t as much of a surprise as it could have.
“I did a lot of research on the internet before coming here, so I already knew a lot about what to expect and what the dorms were like.”
In addition to Spanish player Rafael Nadal, Lobanova still supports players from her country.
“I like watching Nick Kyrgios, he’s Australian, because he has really entertaining matches”
Even though she brings personality into her game on the court, Lobanova believes she’s much less so off the court.
“I’m a very quiet person. I don’t know what else I would say.”
She suggested her life would be less interesting if she wasn’t playing tennis.
“I would probably be back in Australia studying at university and just working a part-time job. I might have been playing a bit of netball, which is an Australian sport, but I think if I wasn’t playing tennis, I wouldn’t be here and my life wouldn’t be as exciting.”
Moving into the spring season, Lobanova simply just wants to improve as a player.
“I’m hoping to improve my doubles game a lot, and just my whole game in tennis overall so that I can be as best as I can for the spring,” she said. “The spring is our main season so it’s really important to get some good wins (before). I’m just really hoping to play hard and improve my game as much as I can.”