Women’s Tennis: Like Father, Like Daughter, How Family Inspires Petrovic


University of Utah senior Alexia Petrovic returned the ball with a backhand as the University of Utah Women's Tennis team take on University of Denver in Salt Lake City, UT on Saturday, February 17, 2018. (Photo by Curtis Lin/ Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Sammy Mora, Sports Editor

Growing up, University of Utah women’s tennis player Alexia Petrovic took on practically any sport. Petrovic tried it all: soccer, gymnastics, basketball, tennis, volleyball, swim, dance and even ice skating. It wasn’t until she was 9 years old when her father, Milan, sat her down and told her it was time to make a decision. 

“I always tell the story of how he approached me and was like, ‘You are done playing every sport, you want to pick one sport and be good at it, you’re going to do that, you’re not playing 20 sports anymore,’” she said.

Her father had his own history to support this conversation. Petrovic’s father played Division I basketball at Northwestern. According to Alexia, he is the reason she is playing DI tennis today.

“There were times when I hated it and I was so mad at him and I would miss a bunch of things, but obviously it was really what I needed and it got me to here so I’m thankful for it,” she said.

Head coach Mat Iandolo could see the heart and determination in Alexia from the moment he began to recruit her. He said she has a solid sense of self, self-esteem and self-worth which shows the success her parents had in raising her. He said he could tell there was a strong family bond from the moment he made a home visit.  

“I think at a young age her dad was pretty strict with her in terms of how she competed and I think she has always put a premium on that,” he said. “I knew if we could bring her game up to speed with how hard she competed I knew she would be successful.”

Iandolo believes playing different sports have helped Alexia on the courts.

“She’s very fast, she covers the court extremely well, so when you combine those as well as having an exceptional work ethic those all go together and [Alexia] probably [picked] those up from playing other sports,” Iandolo said.

By the time Alexia had entered high school, she was a few years into her sole sport of tennis, but she still wanted to get involved in as many high school activities as possible.

She joined her school’s Spanish club, math club, Youth Initiative, newspaper and Roadrunners club. According to Alexia, Roadrunners club is a leadership committee that would give tours of the high school and be an advocate for the school, as well as pitch ideas to make the school better.

All of Alexia’s activities were not just for fun. From a young age, she knew she wanted to go into sports reporting.

“I always knew the more I was able to juggle, the more I would be able to apply to future endeavors that came my way, so I tried to do a variety of things,” Petrovic said.

When it came time to decide on her major there was no doubt in Petrovic’s mind what she was going to choose.

“I’ve known I wanted to do in front of the camera stuff since first grade, I’ve always liked public speaking, I’ve never been afraid to talk to people or be social or put myself in front of a big audience, so I knew I wanted to go into news because of that,” Alexia said.

Petrovic’s choice of news was easily narrowed down. Due to a family environment revolving around sports she knew that a career in sports broadcasting would be the best for her.

At the end of the day, the fiery passion pushing Petrovic towards her ideal career of sports broadcasting all comes back to her father.

“I know that I have to have a lot of background to make myself stand out in that type of industry, so that’s why I tried to start at a young age and my dad was the one that really pushed that on me too,” she said.

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