Dasha Vidmanova is ranked No. 4 in the nation and recently earned first-team all-SEC honors after the Georgia Bulldogs won the 2023 SEC tournament. Vidmanova, a sophomore from Prague, Czech Republic, and her teammates will look to continue their postseason success when Georgia hosts the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament this Friday and Saturday.
Here, she discusses her path to UGA, her relationship with Mell Reasco and her expectations for the NCAA tournament.
(This interview has been edited for clarity.)
Q: What are your expectations going into the first round of the NCAA tournament, and how do you mentally prepare?
A: Well, we’re No. 3 right now, so I think we have really good chances at having a good tournament. And it’s like the last tournament of the season, postseason. So I’m excited, ready, and the first three rounds we’ll have at home, hopefully we get to the third round, to be at home. So that would be a great atmosphere I think, so definitely excited.
Q: What has been your favorite memory so far this season?
A: Well, this season, probably winning (the) SEC (tournament) – it was just a few days ago. We played A&M in the final again, our big rival and just winning it. It was because we lost to them three times before so I really wanted to win that one. And I think that one was really special.
Q: How did you celebrate winning the SEC tournament?
A: I was still playing when we clinched. Obviously everyone ran and jumped and then we got the trophy. And after, actually, when we were still in Arkansas, we went to that place Texas de Brazil, when they bring you the meat, that was pretty good, we got a lot of food and dessert.
Q: How does earning all-SEC honors affect your confidence?
A: I guess that adds confidence because in the SEC I had a really good season. I lost two or three matches, which is pretty good. So last year I got second team I think so it’s really nice, getting the first team and definitely boosted my confidence a little bit.
Q: Do you prefer to play singles or doubles and why?
A: Definitely singles. I was never good in doubles. It was supposed to be fun, but I don’t really have fun. Like when I play with Mell, it’s kind of fun. But I always like to rely just on myself more.
Q: What is like competing with Mell Reasco in doubles?
A: So we know each other really well, we live together, we lived together last year. So we’re really close, so it’s always really fun. We like having sometimes too much fun, we can’t focus, that’s why I think they switched us last year. But it’s definitely always very fun.
Q: Being that you’re from the Czech Republic, how did you first learn about UGA?
A: When I played juniors, my junior ranking was pretty good, so a lot of coaches started texting me – Instagram or text messages. And after I tried to play some pro tournaments, it didn’t go that well. So I thought that maybe going to the U.S. was a good choice. So I started talking to a few of them, and then took some visits and visited Georgia as well. I really liked it here.
Q: How do you think your experiences in playing in the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon (junior tournaments) have prepared you for college tennis?
A: Yeah, definitely the grand slams we’re the biggest tournaments of juniors. So playing that gave me a lot of knowledge and experience that I needed. I guess the atmosphere in college is always a lot of people and when I played the grand slams I also had full stands. So yeah, it was a really new thing for me.
Q: Where are your goals in tennis after college?
A: Well, I’m still not sure if I want to try playing pro or not. I’m still deciding. I think I’ll play some of the summer and then I will just see where I’m at when I graduate – if I still like tennis, if I still want to play and if I want to do some pro tournaments. But for now I really don’t know.
Lily Brody is a student in the Sports Media Certificate program at the University of Georgia’s Carmical Sports Media Institute.