The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Ana at the top of her tennis game

For Cal State Northridge tennis star Ana Matijasevic, her character has been tested time and again, shaping her into a mentally and physically tough leader, both on and off the court.

Now in her third year as a Matador, Matijasevic has established herself as a key component to the team. This 2006 season has seen Matijasevic lead her team in overall wins, maintaining a solid 15-4 singles record and a 12-6 doubles record. Even more unbelievable than her win/loss record is the road in which she traveled to get to such a high level of play. From deciding to relocate more than 5,000 miles from home for CSUN to enduring a season-ending ACL tear in 2004, Matijasevic has been through it all and still has emerged on top.

She was born in Colombes, France, just outside of Paris on Dec. 18, 1984, and was destined to be an athlete. Although she spent most of her life in France, Matijasevic is 100 percent Serbian.

Her mother, Dragoslava Matijasevic, was a professional basketball player in Serbia and is currently a women’s regional team coach in Beauvais, France, while her father, Nikola Matijasevic, is a professional men’s volleyball coach, also in Beauvais.

And if that was not of an indication enough that Matijasevic would be a natural athlete, her brother Djordje was also a top tennis player. In fact, he was among the top 30 in the ITF juniors circuit and Auburn University’s No. 1 player. Djordje attempted to make a career for himself on the ATP tour, but he suffered a career-ending knee injury.

“I grew up in a very athletic family, but I felt no demands,” Matijasevic said. “They were just very supportive.”

As a child, watching her older brother play tennis was a ritual-like event. She would attend all of his matches until the age of 16, Matijasevic said. But it was at age six that Matijasevic realized she wanted to play tennis competitively.

As expected, Matijasevic became very good at a young age. She would practice and play everyday until the age of 12, when she asked herself, “Why am I doing this and could I go pro someday?” She entered senior tournaments, finding herself seeded against women twice her age, who she consistently beat.

“The older women hated playing me,” Matijasevic said. “It wasn’t like the women I played were bad, they were actually pretty good. But I would beat them anyway.”

But tennis was not the only sport Matijasevic played as a child. She played basketball and volleyball for five years. She even played for her mother from ages 13 to 16, but eventually realized she was always going to be a tennis player.

“I never really knew I wanted to play tennis,” Matijasevic said. “I just found out.”

Before deciding to attend CSUN, Matijasevic received numerous inquiries from top tennis schools like Auburn, where her brother had played, UC Irvine and Michigan. Her final choice, however, ultimately came down to coaching and location.

“Moving to California was one thing, but (Head Coach) Gary (Victor) was the difference in my coming to CSUN or not,” Matijasevic said. “Just talking to him and hearing him explain how it was to play at CSUN made me want to be a part of it. And I knew it wasn’t a big-time school for tennis, but when I came here. I knew it was right.”

Victor said he knew that Ana was going to be a good fit the moment he spoke to her.

“I was able to speak to Ana’s brother, who was knowledgeable of her game, Victor said. “I also knew that she would bring a high level of enthusiasm to the team, play with passion and be a good personality to be around.”

For Matijasevic, deciding to attend CSUN was not as simple as packing up her room, stuffing it into a U-Haul and driving down one of Los Angeles’ many freeways.

In fact, Matijasevic had never been to California. So she had to learn how to adapt to a completely new lifestyle, full of many different types of people and cultures. And for someone who is as close to her family as she is, the decision became all the more difficult.

“It is really hard to be away from my family,” Matijasevic said. “I do get to go back and visit them every summer and winter. But the biggest thing I miss about being in France with my family is going to my Dad’s volleyball games.”

Matijasevic is in her third year as a Matador, however, she has really only played one and a half seasons on the team. As a freshman, Matijasevic was thrust into the position of playing as the No. 1 player, a move that was made due to the loss of many of the previous years’ players. Her first season, record-wise, was less than memorable, as Matijasevic went just 1-13 before enduring one of her biggest challenges of her life…an injury.

On March 14, 2004 in a match against Denver at Cal State Fullerton, Matijasevic suffered an ACL tear. During her doubles match with senior YuYu Myinttun, Matijasevic attempted to save a shot hit down the line, only to feel her knee give out.

“It was so painful,” Matijasevic said. “And at first the trainer thought it wasn’t an ACL injury.”

After further consultations it was determined that Matijasevic did, in fact, have a clean tear of her ACL and surgery was needed. Victor and CSUN’s athletic trainer Scott Shaw were present during Ana’s entire surgery. Her teammates, friends and coaches came to visit her, but no one could comfort her for the pain she would experience during the first few days of recovery.

“At first I had so many bad happenings,” Matijasevic said. “I was allergic to Morphine, had a bad reaction to Benedryl and I was without pain killers for the first night.”

The doctors told her that she could expect to be out of tennis for around eight months.

“The surgery was a rough time, But what was harder was all the hours of rehab,” Matijasevic said. It was hard to watch the team struggle last season. I had to sit and watch for so long, that when I was finally able to get back I told myself I would never take it for granted.”

But unfortunately for Matijasevic, it took nearly 18 months before she could play her first competitive match. And after missing the entire 2005 season, she was more than eager to get back on the court.

Before she was able to get back to her on-court competition, Matijasevic decided to engage in a separate type of competition, running for the Associated Student Government at CSUN. Having been a member of the Student Athletic Advisory Council (SAAC) since her sophomore year, the decision for President-elect Zach Bates to choose Matijasevic as vice-president was an easy one.

Although Bates and Matijasevic were favorites among many at CSUN, including the athletes, the duo fell in the run-off to the eventual President Chad Charton and vice-president Safa Sajadi.

Matijasevic said that had they won office it would have given her a great challenge to juggle classes, tennis, and hold office, but that it was more important to be involved and believe in what you stand for. Matijasevic, however, climbed the ranks through SAAC and now holds the title of Co-President with CSUN volleyball player Travis Bleuming.

Although gifted athletically, Matijasevic also has an exceptional singing voice. She would primarily sing jazz, pop, and rock, and was even asked to go on the “French Idol”, but turned it down.

“I sang for six years and I was pretty good at it,” Matijasevic said. “I had album recording propositions, but I turned them down for a college degree, and of course tennis.”

With her injury mended, Matijasevic began the 2006 season with a roaring start, contributing as the Matadors’ No. 5 singles player. But Victor quickly decided to move her to the No. 4 position, hoping to utilize her full potential.

Throughout Matijasevic’s incredible return to collegiate tennis, many moments stand out. But perhaps the most memorable was also the most bittersweet, as Matijasevic and the Matadors traveled to UCSB March 5, for a critical Big West Conference game.

The Matadors found themselves down 3-2 with two singles matc
hes unfinished. Matijasevic was matched up against Gaucho Charlotte Scatliffe. After winning the first set 7-6, Matijasevic fell in the second 2-6, forcing a deciding third In the third set, Matijasevic and Scatliffe battled to a pivotal tiebreaker, with Matijasevic emerged the victor, giving CSUN the 3-3 tie with one match remaining. The Matadors could not close out the Gauchos, however, as UCSB hung on to win in the No. 5 singles match.

“It was probably the best win I have ever had,” Matijasevic said. “It was just so hard to enjoy it knowing we lost.”

Before a match Ana enjoys listening to music. She even has a playlist titled “Gameday.”

“There isn’t one song I listen to that reminds me of something negative,” Matijasevic said. “They all remind me of good memories.”

Now with the season complete, Matijasevic will go into the Big West Tournament in Indian Wells and face none other than the UCSB Gauchos, and against Scatliffe, for what could be another match of epic proportions.

Matijasevic’s doubles teammate has the utmost faith in her remarkable comeback and her ability to contribute to the team and its success.

“Ana is a great player,” said teammate Olga Yepremian. “I enjoy playing doubles with her.”

Next year Matijasevic will be a senior and one step closer to graduation, but the Marketing major is not entirely sure where she will end up.

“I have no idea if I am going to stay in the states or not,” Matijasevic said. “In a perfect world I would love to stay in California and maybe become an assistant coach for CSUN, at least for a little while. I don’t feel like my competitive sporting career is over just yet.”

Matt Osias can be reached at


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