Jan. 24, 2005
Tallahassee, Fla. – Yana Stoeva from Vratsa, Bulgaria and Tapiwa Marobela from Garborone, Botswana have come a long way to play tennis for Florida State University. Both players are still adjusting to their new environments and looking forward to the start of the season.
Stoeva graduated from St. Kliment Ohridski in Bulgaria with the second highest GPA in her class. She has had to make several adjustments in the classroom and on the court since joining the Noles.
“If the subjects were in Bulgarian, it would be really easy for me,” said Stoeva. “The English barrier is really hard for me but if I study hard then I can manage. Also, my tutor helps me a lot as well.”
In addition to classroom changes, Stoeva’s style on the court has changed. Despite being an aggressive player who likes to go for the kill early in the point, the Seminoles’ new head coach Jennifer Hyde is working very hard with her to help improve her consistency.
“I don’t like long points,” said Stoeva. “In the beginning, I was making a lot of mistakes because of that. Now I know that it is good to be consistent even if the point is really long. I try not to hurry so much. I like to try different things and do whatever works best.”
Fellow rookie Tapiwa Marobela, like Stoeva, is an aggressive player who likes to challenge her opponent by hitting winners. Marobela was named Botswana’s Sports Woman of the Year in 2003. She has not had much of a problem with the adjustment to college level tennis mainly due to her experience playing in the junior women’s tennis circuit.
Just like with Stoeva, Hyde has stressed consistent play as a main goal to help improve Marobela’s game. The Garborone, Botswana native stressed that improving the mental part of her play would be vital to her success.
“Before I came to college I played in a lot of world junior tournaments,” Marobela said. “Playing at the college level, athletes are older so focusing on the mental part of my game is the key to achieving success. The athletes aren’t necessarily better than they were on the world junior circuit, but just more mature mentally.”
Both athletes are looking forward to the start of the new tennis season. During the fall, both of the freshmen had the opportunity to play in several collegiate tennis matches. These fall matches have also helped to build confidence for both players. Marobela capitalized on that experience earning a spot in both the singles and doubles starting lineups.
“It was good for me to play in the fall because when I first came I didn’t know exactly how the system worked and how people played over here,” Marobela said. “It definitely helped me to get used to playing here.”
Marobela and Stoeva experienced a good amount of success in the matches that they played during the fall. Both student-athletes had high winning percentages in singles matches. Stoeva was 5-2, with wins at the NCAA South Regional Championship over April Bradley from Belmont 6-2, 6-1, at the Lady Seminole Classic over Shaunda Gaiter from Bethune Cookman 6-0, 6-1 and Ashley Eville from Stetson 6-0, 6-1 and at the Georgia Tech Invitational over Holly Asel from Marshall 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 and Esther van Londen from Georgia Tech 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. Stoeva also experienced success in doubles finishing the fall with three big wins in seven matches.
Marobela went 6-3 in her singles matches and had six victories in doubles play during the fall. She had singles wins at the Gator Fall Classic over Caren Seenauth from Miami 6-2, 6-3, the NCAA South Regional Championships over Zeynap Gurkaynak from JSU 6-1, 6-0, and Charlotte Bruneteaux from Georiga Southern 6-1, 6-2 and the Georgia Tech Invitational over Tamar Huppes from Maryland 5-7, 6-4, 7-5, Alizee Paradis from Marshall 7-6(5), 6-3, and Lyndsay Shosho from Georgia Tech 5-7, 7-6, 6-4. The Georgia Tech Invitational proved to be a very positive experience for both players.
“At the Georgia Tech Invitational, I played two really tough matches and managed to get through them,” said Marobela. “They were tight matches, so getting through those I really felt like I gained a lot of confidence.”
“It was the first big city I have been in,” Stoeva said. ” I felt the whole team worked together more and became a lot closer.”
The Seminoles’ former coach Lisa Gregory recruited both players. Despite the departure of Gregory, both players still wanted to come and play for Florida State for similar reasons.
“I wanted to come here and I mainly based my decision on the team and the program,” said Stoeva.
“In the beginning I thought it would be a problem but I decided to come here anyway,” Marobela said. “When I came on the recruiting trip I liked the team and the campus as well.”
The experience gained along with the lessons already learned by the freshmen duo will prove to be big in the Seminoles run at an NCAA Tournament berth in May.