July 11, 2007
From the basketball court to the soccer pitch to the swimming pool, it’s an undeniable fact that certain sports cater to individuals while others find their focus on the team aspect. Of those sports, tennis is one of the few that offers opportunities for a little of both. In twenty-plus years of tennis experience, Ania Rynarzewska has experienced both sides of the sport on an athletic and a personal level.
Growing up in Inowroclaw, Poland, Ania took to the courts in the shadows of her older sister, Sylwia despite her initial trepidation toward the sport and its social consequences.p>
“At the beginning I didn’t like tennis,” said Rynarzewska. “I wanted to be a normal girl. Tennis took up a lot of time, so you didn’t have a lot of time to be normal and socialize with people.”
Although she played basketball and ran track growing up as well, it was tennis that would prove to be Rynarzewska’s sport of choice. In high school, she chose to move to Germany and pursue both her education and her athletic endeavors at the Polish Embassy in Berlin.
During her training in Germany, Rynarzewska worked to mold her game, somewhat in the image of her tennis idol, Monica Seles.
“I love the way she played, she was so aggressive and she also played two-handed forehand and backhand as I do.”
Rynarzewska’s unyielding determination both on and off the court paid off all through high school as she brought home awards that included a singles national championship as well as a team national championship. It was a style and a level of play she would soon bring across the Atlantic Ocean to the courts of Florida State.
Although Rynarzewska was first attracted to Florida State by the school’s academic reputation (she was a member of the All-ACC Academic team her freshman year) it took one person in particular to convince her to leave Poland and come to the United States.
“Jennifer Hyde, our head coach, she seemed like we were on the same wave and had the same goals and hopes for the team.”
But what Rynarzewska didn’t realize until she arrived at Florida State, was that somewhere along the way, during her intense tennis training, she had become a very stand alone individual.
“I was a tennis player and always on my own, so I had to be an individual. I just learned to be an individual,” said Rynarzewska. “I didn’t know how it was to not be an individual. Even when I played team tennis in Poland, I just came for the matches, I wasn’t there all the time. I wasn’t a real part of the team, I just came in to win.”
Fortunately, there was a group of girls at Florida State just waiting to embrace her as a part of their team. Just two years into her studies and training at FSU, Rynarzewska has already attributed her transition from an individual to a team member to her fellow tennis players in garnet and gold.
“They have taught me how to not be an individual, because I’ve been always on my own. They taught me how to be part of the team, and I think that was very important for me.”