NORFOLK, Va. — "I just know what to expect, you know last year it was my first time going there and I was expecting a very high level of the girls playing. Right now I feel like I achieved more and I can compete better this year."
Yuliia Starodubtseva has been here before. One of three qualifying Monarch tennis players for the NCAA tournament, she's the only one that's repeating as a tournament qualifier. The first time around, the results were not what she wanted.
"I had not the best experience last year. Really did not feel like playing tennis after that. I had a bad match," says Starodubtseva.
She describes herself as a player that needs "proof" to have confidence in her abilities on the court. When asked about the possibility of another disappointing result, it becomes clear very quickly that she has all the proof she needs.
"It's not gonna happen, it's never going to happen again," she says about last years early round loss. After nationally-ranked wins over N.C. State, Auburn, Texas Tech, Ga, Tech, Ole Miss, Penn, VCU and number 1 in the country Princeton, Yuliia has proven multiple times over what she is capable of. There is a decisive aura of relaxation at the Old Dominion Tennis Complex one day before taking off for Champaign, Illinois (the host city). Expectations have been acknowledged, but kept at bay. The 17th ranked player nationally, Yuliia heads to this years tournament with more experience, and more confidence.