Anastasia the Great


Abu Sufian Muhammad Asib

Anastasia Goncharova (Photo by Abu Asib | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Elijah Murray, Sports Writer


Anastasia Goncharova: Moscow-Born and Illinois-Bred.

The senior sociology major has been crucial to the Utah women’s tennis team’s historic season. Since joining the Utes from UC Santa Barbara her junior year, Goncharova has made leaps and bounds in her progression as a tennis player under coach Ric Mortera.

“I have always had an eye on her,” Mortera said. “I’ve had no doubts that she could come back from her injuries and put her stamp on the program.”

Goncharova, who was a top 30 recruit in the U.S. in 2018, the 3rd best player in Chicago and the 5th best in the Midwest, has battled through some injuries throughout her storied career, causing her to question her happiness playing the sport.

Senior biology major and teammate of Goncharova Madison Tattini grew up playing against Goncharova in Chicago and was a big factor in getting “G” to come to Utah.

“When the coach mentioned that she was in the transfer portal, I decided to message her, and I guess you could say I might have persuaded her to come here,” Tattini said.

It’s a good thing she did, because Goncharova has become a great player during her time at Utah.

“We always lived 2 hours away and had little conversations at tournaments,” Tattini added. “Now we live together and we’ve only gotten closer and now we see each other every day.”

The closeness of these two is just a small part of the overall camaraderie this team possesses and it shows on every single match day in full force. Before this season, I knew nothing about tennis. However, when I started spending time around the team and attended the first match against Dixie State, I immediately felt the chemistry that flows through the whole team. From yelling “Go Utes!” to simply laughing with their teammates during doubles, what Tattini describes as “the closest we’ve ever been” is contagious and prominent throughout the entire match day. Each player has contributed in their own way to this historic season, but Goncharova has always stood out. For great reason too, as she has won all of her singles matches this year and has only lost one of her doubles matches.

Tennis has been a part of Goncharova’s life ever since she can remember.

“It was my mom who got me into tennis,” she said. “She always had a vision when she was in labor that she was going to have a daughter playing tennis.”

She tried multiple sports before picking up tennis, and nothing else really stuck. She found her true passion and realized that she had fallen in love with the sport, not only realizing her mom’s vision, but also turning her love of the sport into an incredibly high-level career.

When Goncharova entered the transfer portal as a junior, she made finding the right coach for her a top priority.

“The main thing I was looking for was a really, really good coach that I could connect with,” Goncharova said. “I needed someone to help me find my passion for tennis again … I lost my path a little bit. I wasn’t quite sure if what I was doing made me happy anymore.”

Talking to coach Mortera and the players made her realize that her passion was still there and that the connection was there from the start.

The women’s tennis team this year is known for their energetic and loud demeanor on the court, something that Goncharova embraces.

“You get the sense that we are completely dominating and showing them that they came to our territory, and this is going to be our courts, and we are going to play by our rules,” Goncharova said.

Goncharova reflected about the toughest match of her career, which she said was the loss against Washington State last season.

“Definitely one of the most painful matches I’ve had in my career, top 3 for sure,” she said.

She was confident, though, that she could fix the mistake and win the match this season, which she went out and did.

“I knew I could do it this time around.”

Anastasia the Great has been through a lot in her career, from injuries to painful losses, but every time she has prevailed, coming back stronger than before and consistently proving why she belongs.


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