At the impressionable age of 8, junior Florida tennis player Olivia Janowicz disrespected her father for the first time, launching her racket into the court before storming away.
“I just didn’t understand what he wanted from me sometimes,” Janowicz said. “You’re that young, you can’t really comprehend that much. You’re thinking about a playground.”
Her father always saw his eldest daughter playing tennis. Robert Janowicz put a racket in her hand when she was 3 and never looked back.
“My dad knew what he wanted me doing from day one, he just wanted me to be a tennis player. He just saw Serena Williams and he thought he could make that out of me,” Janowicz said.
When Olivia Janowicz was 11, she left her Linden, N.J., home with her father and his wife Beata. The family moved to Palm Bay, Fla., where the weather is more favorable to play tennis consistently.
But even after moving to her Florida home, Janowicz was always on the road, competing against the country’s best, amateur tennis players.
At times, tennis would take her as close as Vero Beach, Fla. and as far as Sacramento, Calif.
Janowicz spent a lot of time in California. She attended Gorin Tennis Academy in Granite Bay, Calif., just outside of Sacramento. Her father continued to push her to improve her game as he monitored the experience she was gaining on the west coast.
Janowicz said she felt like he wanted her to be perfect. It wasn’t until she realized her favorite tennis players lost matches too that she began to relax and enjoy the game. Realizing that not even her idols could be perfect helped put her mind at ease.
Although Janowicz played well enough in tournaments to earn a scholarship to play for the Gators, the obstacles only increased with the level of talent she faced.
Janowicz’s overall-singles record during her career at Florida is 77-20. Her doubles record is 49-23. She’s been named SEC Freshman of the Week, and she’s been on the SEC All-Freshmen Team.
Now, as a junior pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Political Science, Janowicz is submerged by tennis and her schoolwork. After graduating from UF, she will attempt to play tennis professionally. But if that doesn’t work out, she says she would enjoy a career in the European Union (EU) or United Nations (UN).
Until then, Janowicz continues on in her personal battle with tennis.