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Profile of the Week: Polina Tsymbalova

By Bruna Pacheco
On October 26, 2018

Photo by Bruna Pacheco

“Coach Polina was a great addition to our tennis program here at OU,” says Nicole Robbins, OU tennis player.

“Personally, she has been instrumental in my successes during the fall season in singles and doubles. Without her advice, I would not have been able to win the conference tournament. She is a great mentor and assistant coach, and I am looking forward to her coaching in our upcoming spring season.”

Coach Polina Tsymbalova is from Moscow, Russia. She is currently the new Graduate Assistant for the tennis team at Ottawa University and is getting her MBA in Health Care Management.

She was a member of the tennis team at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, while she was double-majoring in Finances and Business Administration. After graduating, she got a work permit for six months and worked at a private clinic in Wichita, completing physician reports and analyzing their performance.

“I chose Wichita because it is where my brother is currently living at,” Tsymbalova says.

If it wasn’t for her brother Tony she would not be where she is at right now.

Tsymbalova was a gymnast her whole life, but after her brother got a scholarship to play tennis at a college in Indiana, thoughts about playing tennis began to rush through her head.

“I just wanted to hear from him all the experience of being in college, playing tennis and all the things that he gets to do. Maybe I could also follow his path and see what can happen,” she says.

Since it is not as easy to come to the US with gymnastics as it is with tennis, she tried to convince her parents to switch sports. She wanted to play tennis from a young age, but her parents never really let her.

“They always thought that one tennis player in the family was enough. My brother had to skip a lot of school because of travelling. He took it pretty seriously and they didn’t want me to do that,” Tsymbalova says. “Since I was a girl, they wanted me to do my gymnastic stuff and not worry about all the crazy and competitiveness that involves tennis.”

When she was 13 years old, Tsymbalova finally started playing tennis – a late start for a tennis player. To catch up, she practiced for six days a week and six hours a day, plus two hours of conditioning.

When she was 14 and a half, she began training in Kansas City because her brother was the director in a tennis academy, which made practice convenient for her.

Her describes her experience as an undergraduate student as really fun and very different from what the students are experiencing here in Ottawa because of Arkansas’ Southern vibe.

“The culture is different. They all drive trucks, drink sweet tea, say 'y’all' and 'fixing to go,'” she says. “They go to country concerts all the time and just talk funny in general.”

She came to Ottawa because of Scott Enge, the OU tennis coach. When Tsymbalova was 15 years old and practicing in Kansas City, Scott Enge was one of the coaches there. While she was working in Wichita a few months ago, she decided to go to graduate school, and, because she remembered that he was a coach at OU, they got in touch. Two weeks before school started, she decided to come.

Enge was excited about having coach Polina joining him in the beginning of the new season.

“Her knowledge of the game and her coaching ability will help our team tremendously. She is also very hard worker and dedicated to helping the team succeed,” Enge says.

Two things that she misses is her home city of Moscow and the food, especially her dad’s barbecue. Thanks to his special grill and his own way to marinate the meat, nothing tastes quite the same.

After she earns her MBA, she hopes to stay in America and keep working with health care management doing finances for a clinic.

 

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