Q&A; with freshman Shivani Dav‚

By Harini Ganesh

Q: Why did you decide to come to Illinois?

A: I thought that U of I represented a really good balance of what I was looking for, a really strong tennis program, Division-I, good academics, good business school, what I was interested in.

Q: When did you start playing tennis?

A: I’ve been playing probably for eight years or so.

Q: What made you want to start playing tennis?

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A: I didn’t start playing seriously until a little bit late. My brother played tennis, and I just grew up watching tennis so I was really influenced by that.

Q: Who’s your favorite tennis player?

A: Andre Agassi, because I really like his style of game. It’s baseline and it’s strong. I like his attitude on the court; he’s humble and really modest. And Sania Mirza, because she’s a great inspiration because growing up playing tennis in India is really tough with all the conditions.

Q: Favorite part of playing at Illinois?

A: It’s different from playing in juniors, where I represented myself, but here I’m representing a team. I’m wearing Illinois stuff and it just gives me a sense of pride to walk around, and I feel good. I have the opportunity to play and be an athlete.

Q: What was it like playing in the juniors?

A: I played nationally. It’s much different than college tennis, just representing yourself, and you don’t have any other teammates who are cheering you on. You’re all on your own. It’s a little more independent whereas here, whether you lose or win, you’re still out there supporting your team no matter what. Just because you win your match doesn’t mean you’ve won the whole thing.

Q: What do you do to prepare yourself for a match?

A: I think that’s one of the biggest things I’m working on right now. Sujay and JoAnne (the coaches) have expectations for my preparation. Just making sure I’m ready, being more professional out there and having everything organized. In the juniors, we’re a little more laid back about the preparation but here they talk to me about their expectations from me.

Q: Coming from Boston, what’s your favorite part of being in Illinois so far?

A: I’ve been to Illinois before, I have family here, but I definitely miss Boston. Environment-wise I don’t feel too different, but I’m always going to love Boston. I love it here, I’m enjoying it and my family’s really supportive.

Q: The least favorite part of being in Illinois?

A: Probably the cornfields.

Q: What do you miss most about home?

A: My family. It’s hard being so far away and most of the people who go to this school are from Illinois, and I always see them getting to go home and it’s sad; I don’t get to go home and see my parents. It makes it more special when I do go home.

Q: What’s your favorite part of campus life?

A: I enjoy how things are set up here; I really enjoy Green Street. It’s much different than high school, you’re not as restricted but there’s a lot more you have to discipline yourself to. I’ve been having a lot of fun. I’m enjoying it a lot here.