Oct. 31, 2007
“Little Katie,” as many may describe her, is one of the two newcomers to Florida State this year, but her look should not be deceiving. Even though she is very small and looks fragile, she has the power and fight of a warrior.
Rybakova was born in Russia but at the age of one, her parents immigrated to the USA, making New York, Katie Rybakova’s new home.
“I still have my Russian passport. I was born in Moscow, Russia. My entire family is full blooded Russians, and is the first to immigrate to America.”
Rybakova is proud of her heritage even though she admits that sometimes it can be hard because Russians are emotional and emotions are hard to control. However, the fact that the entire family is very expressive can be a good thing because motivation is driven by the emotion.
“Even though we are very emotional, we work very hard. We have very good work ethic and motivation to succeed,” Rybakova said.
At the age of six, Rybakova began training with her parents, who have a lot of tennis experience. From an early age, she followed steps of her father, who played in the Davis Cup for Russia, and her mother, who also played tennis at high level and who is now a physiotherapist. When Rybakova turned fourteen, the entire family moved to South Florida to give their daughter better opportunities to practice.
“In New York I didn’t get to play tennis that often; I played an hour a day, and if I was lucky, two. It would usually be late at night, when the courts would open up from clinics and group lessons. Florida turned out to be a paradise for tennis; courts whenever and sun year round,” Rybakova stated.
Much better weather and facility conditions allowed Rybakova to improve her tennis. A dream from childhood slowly started to develop into something realistic.
“I started playing tennis because I always envisioned myself playing, even at a very young age. The strict discipline that my parents taught me from that young age is the reason why my tennis has reached such a high point. Always give 110% was and still is my family’s motto,” Rybakova said.
This is also why Rybakova decided to go to Florida State.
“FSU’s tennis program is at a high level, which perfectly fits my vision. In addition, FSU offers great education and this is also very important to me. Of course, I can’t forget to mention the team and the coaches because they are the best people I know. Coaches know how to motivate and with the girls, we have the best chemistry. I love my team,” Rybakova said.
Even though Rybakova has only been on the team for half a semester, she has already shown what she is made of. She won all her singles and doubles matches together with her partner, junior Ania Rynarzewska, during Georgia Tech’s Fall Invitational. She also represented FSU at the All-American Championships in Malibu.
Her appearance at the Southern Regionals in Athens, Ga. was even bigger: Rybakova fought her way through to the semifinals in the singles “A” draw.
When asked what her plans about FSU are, she comes up big.
“I want to be the best in school and on the court. I know it may not be easy, but I will work very hard to succeed individually and as a team member. I also would like to meet many interesting people, because this is also very important to me and is a big part of the college experience,” Rybakova stated with a smile.
Story by teammate Ania Rynarzewska