LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – Dana Radovanovic and Floriane Picaut are 2 of the many international tennis players at the University of Louisiana
“I started at 7. My brother tried to play tennis when he was eight or something like that and he said come with me and try and I tried and I liked it,” Radovanovic recalls.
“I started to play tennis when I was four years old. My parents were very present for me. They pushed me all the time and I played with my father so it was very fun to share with him my passion,” Picaut says.
That passion that led both Radovanovic and Picaut to become a Ragin’ Cajun.
“They come to practice every day with just this great work ethic and a great competitive spirit and I think it’s really impacted the team a lot,” says head coach Stephanie Vallejos.
She says that she understands the difficult decision for these women to not only leave their family but the place that they call home.
“I want this to be their second home, their family away from home really,” Vallejos says.
Thankfully, the French influence here in Louisiana helps.
“I feel like I’m in France when I’m here,” Radovanovic says.
Picaut adds: “Especially in the food, even if it’s a little spicy here, it’s pretty similar.”
The culture shock wasn’t the only thing the players had to adapt to.
They had to also make changes to the game that they grew up playing.
“In France, we play more individual, here it’s more like playing as a team so I really like it because it’s really helpful. for example, if you’re in the third set and you know the whole team is with you, it’s really helpful and I really like it,” Radovanovic says.
It wasn’t an easy decision, to leave behind everything they knew and loved and come to a different country
But both Radovanovic and Picaut agree it was the best decision.
“Yeah it was hard to leave my family, my friends, but it was a unique opportunity for me to improve my game to improve English and I think it’s a great experience to grow up,” Picaut says.
“Yes because I’m really close with my brother and sister so it was hard but I think I made a good choice,” Radovanovic adds.
And while both girls say they hope they have made their families proud, Coach Vallejos wants their family to know, how thankful she is to them.
“We appreciate their daughters’ efforts so much. They come in here and they represent us so well that they raised two girls that have just been great athletes but also have a great personality as well. and we’re so excited to have them join our family here at UL in women’s tennis and see where it goes but I know it’s going to be somewhere special for the two of them in their careers,” she says.