Ranked third in Australian women’s rankings at the young age of 22, Melbourne girl Olivia Rogowska is as ambitious as ever to break the top 100 as she settles into her new home base in America.
The recent move to the US has come shortly after a dream run in Launceston, where the young Aussie clinched both the singles and doubles titles. This lifted her to a career-high doubles ranking of 106 and a significantly high singles ranking of 125.
The $50,000 tournament win also marked the biggest singles title of her career thus far.
We caught up with Olivia shortly before Acapulco to discuss her dreams for the future and favourite moments on court.
Q: First of all, congratulations on your success in Launceston recently!
A: Thank you!
Q: What more could you have hoped for? I mean, you won both the singles and doubles.
A: I know, it was a really good week. You definitely have to enjoy those weeks. They don’t happen often. This year I’m moving to the States, so every good result has really helped my move. In January I won a round at the Australian Open too, so obviously that prize money really helps. Every dollar counts when you’re on the road – booking flights, accommodation and coach fees.
Q: How hard do you work for moments like that at the Australian Open and in Launceston?
A: I’ve been playing tennis since I was five and I work pretty hard. I train around six hours a day, that’s including fitness and on court. It’s an extremely physical game and there’s a lot of hard work involved, but it all pays off when you win a tournament or start showing some good results. All the pain’s worth it in the end (laughs).
Q: Yeah, you were actually quite emotional after the Launceston match. Can you describe how you were feeling after that win?
A: I’m a player who doesn’t really show that much emotion. The entire week I was really calm. There are times when, you know, you just want to go ballistic and you have to stay really composed. So once you win, there’s a lot of relief, happiness and the frustration and all those emotions are released. I couldn’t help it, I got a little emotional, but it was all happy tears.
Q: Olivia, you seem to be going from strength to strength. How would you compare your performance this summer to that of past years?
A: I had my best January that I think I’ve ever had. I’ve had a lot of disappointing matches – close, tough matches at the Australian Open – so every year I’m getting more experience and becoming stronger both mentally and physically. I feel like now I kind of belong at that level. It’s all exciting and this move to America is going to really help me I believe.
Q: Do you think breaking the top 100 is a realistic goal for you this year?
A: It’s a massive goal. Ever since I started playing tennis, it’s always the goal to break the top hundred and then, once you’re there, to break top 50. Obviously the ultimate is top 10. So I’m doing everything possible to break the top 100. From now on I have to do some smart scheduling and smart training. Hopefully I’ll continue playing well and continuing these good results.
Q: I remember in the first round of Hobart last month, you had a pretty big win against a top 100 player.
A: Yeah, I had a really good win. She was in the top 60. I think a lot of confidence came from that match, knowing that I can match it up with a top 60 player.
Q: Could you sense the higher standard?
A: I believe that, at this standard, all the girls have a similar tennis level. It’s just so mentally tough at that level – they never give up, they fight for every single point. I believe it’s more the mental game the higher you get. Every year on tour is an experience and you learn from the tough matches. You lose some and you win some. It’s all a learning curve. I’m 22, so I’m still relatively young. Hopefully this year I learn from my mistakes and keep it up.
Q: So where about in the US are you calling from?
A: I’m training at the moment in the US in Boca, South Florida. It’s around 30 minutes south of Miami. It’s a really good set up here. I’m training at the Evert Tennis Academy. The weather’s perfect every single day and the facilities are great, so it’s the perfect training base. I’m originally from Melbourne. I grew up in Melbourne and always trained in Melbourne, but this year I decided to move just to make things easier because it’s closer to everything. Australia’s so far away. It’s a big move but it’s definitely exciting.
Q: Definitely, and it sounds like the weather’s more reliable than in Melbourne too.
A: Yeah. The weather’s just to die for, so I’m not complaining about that.
Q: So what are your plans for the next few months on tour?
A: I’m trying to play the biggest WTA events. I’m headed to Acapulco next week, then Indian Wells and then Miami. The competition is much tougher, but I’m just going to take that confidence from January and Launceston, and just go out there and give it a crack.
Q: You said this summer was your best so far. Do you feel more pressure to crack the top 100?
A: No, my career high ranking is 108, so I’ve been closer to the top 100. I got a little bit nervous when I got the opportunity to break through, but now I’m that much more calm and confident about it. This time I’m just not going to think about the points or any results, I’ll just focus on what I’ve been working on and if I execute that the results will come. So I’m just trying to approach it differently this time.
Q: Sounds like you have a fantastic attitude. Rewinding the clock a bit, can you tell me a bit about your Polish background?
A: I was born in Melbourne but my entire family’s Polish. My parents moved to Australia a few years before I was born. So I still have some grandparents in Poland and we speak the language at home. I love the ability of being able to speak a different language. There’s actually quite a lot of Polish girls on tour, so it’s nice to be able to speak with them in their first language. It definitely comes in handy.
Q: And how were you first introduced to tennis?
A: My dad was a very keen social tennis player. He was pretty good and I hit with him when I was younger. At the age of nine, everyone thought I had some good hand-eye coordination skills and decided to go to a coach. It all started happening from there really, all the hard work, and at the age of 12 I had to make the decision to continue going to a normal school or start doing distance education to put a lot more hours on court. I was really happy to do it and my parents were really happy to support me.
Q: What’s the best memory you have from being on a tennis court?
A: It’s hard to pick. Representing Australia for the Fed Cup when we beat Germany, that was an amazing week for me, I also represented Australia at the Commonwealth Games which is really special, and obviously playing at every Grand Slam or even just playing on Rod Laver Arena in front of thousands of people. The Australian support is incredible. Some very special moments…
Q: You’re now twenty-two. In reflection of the past few years, what advice would you give to the younger players transitioning into the professional ranks?
A: My advice is to work extremely hard. That’s what’s got me to where I am at the moment. There are no shortcuts. You have to make some sacrifices – you won’t be able to hang out with friends as much, you won’t be able to go to parties as much because you have training early in the morning or have to play a tournament. So you have to be extremely disciplined. If you don’t have that it would be really hard.
Q: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat to us, Olivia. Good luck with everything in America!
A: That’s okay, no problem! Thanks Alana.