April 11, 2002
In this day and age, most people don’t flinch when an athlete announces at the age of thirteen their turning pro to pursue their dreams. In the past five years it’s not only become socially acceptable, but slowly young professionals are becoming our next icons. The people we imitate and strive to be like. The people who fascinate us. However, let’s rewind for a moment, back to a day when one of these young professionals made a decision to digress away from being the next Steffi Graf, and just walking the line of normality, while never deserting her one true love. You see, Alida Gallovits (pronounced Gal-o-vich), has, shall we say “been there and done that.” She’s played all over the professional circuit in Europe, with first place victories in Macedonia, Egypt, and Slovenia. Yes, it’s safe to say she came, she saw, and she conquered. She was ranked top 500 in the world for three years. But, when Gallovits decided to bring her exciting tennis background to Tallahassee and give up her professional status, Europe’s loss became Florida State’s gain.
Now when speaking of a gain, this infers that something was not only added, but had a positive effect on it’s final destination, and Gallovits fit that bill to a “T”.
After sending her applications to become a collegiate tennis player to various different schools, she wasn’t sure which way the path was going to lead her. However, upon her information packet’s arrival at Florida State, the rest was pretty much history.
“After I sent my stuff to Florida State, Coach Gregory was the first to get back to me and she really pursued me to become part of her team.”
The coach Gregory she speaks of is, of course, the highly intelligent recruiting guru Lise Gregory, who is in her fifth year as head coach for the Lady Seminoles tennis program. Gregory’s quick response, no doubt helped bring Alida to FSU, but who would’ve ever guessed that a small “swoosh” symbol would be the factor that sealed the deal.
“I’ve always wanted to be sponsored by Nike” Alida said with laugh and a bright smile across her face “so when I found out FSU was sponsored by Nike, I knew it was meant to be.”
Florida States gain could be noticed immediately upon her arrival. She won her first three matches as a Seminole and over half her matches all year seeded at the No. 1 position, finishing the season ranked 92 in the ITA standings. The following year Gallovits defeated seven ranked opponents on her way to being named All-ACC for the second year and slashing her ranking nearly in half, all the way down to 48th in the country. Then just last year she never failed to disappoint, earning All-ACC honors for the third time and capturing the singles titles at both the Georgia Tech and Hurricane Classic Invitationals.
Now like every hard-working athlete, the body always suffers a beating due the strenuous workout it receives on a daily basis. Gallovits’s body is certainly no different, as a past injury has crept up to hinder her from competing to her fullest potential this season. When she arrived in Tallahassee in 1998 her shoulder was already injured, leaving her afraid she may be unable to play.
“I was scared I wasn’t going to be able to play and contribute, but I was able to recover and play, and play well. I played through it every year, but this year I re-injured it and I also have been struggling with pain in both my feet” said Gallovits. “It’s my last semester so I just want to be able to finish the season and play my last match,” then with a pondering look she added, “hopefully with a win.”
Every Seminole fan who has followed her career and watched her blossom into a highly productive member of the team undoubtedly wish for the same thing.
After it’s all said and done with, Alida wants to take a break from tennis for a while and ease into life as a working-class woman, with the distinct possibility of grad-school in her future.
“I don’t think I could work in office, I think I’d have to do something where I could be outside and around people,” when asked what kind of work she wanted to pursue with her international marketing degree she’s seeking. But then added “really anything new that’s challenging is O.K. with me.”
And while she’s certainly had many challenges already to face in her life and surely many more to come, there is one challenge she’d rather not think about right now: her final match as a Lady Seminole. Her voice trembled a bit and her face reflected sadness when asked how she’d feel after that final point as a member of the Florida State Women’s Tennis Team.
“I think I’ll definitely be sad. I’ve spent what seems like half my life here. But right now I just want to think about the fact that I still have a year of school here to finish up, and I will be out here every match cheering the team and just enjoying the time I have left at FSU.”
Alida’s stay here has been one that will be sorely missed by all those who are associated with the women’s tennis program. Whether it’s her work ethic on or off the court to improve the team or the smile that is always abroad her face, one thing Seminole fans can count on is that whatever Alida does with the remainder of her days is sure to make all those who supported her throughout her career proud to say they knew her. She can now channel all those qualities into a career that is certain to bring her reward for all her days of positivity and hard-work, which may hopefully end up in a call from the marketing department of Nike.