First-year tennis player brings Serbian roots to Marquette

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Nikola Kijac is a first-year tennis player from Serbia. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Born in Belgrade, Serbia, first-year student Nikola Kijac has a unique upbringing compared to many students at Marquette. While he came from across the Atlantic Ocean to attend the university, one major factor for his decision was his passion and commitment to tennis.

Kijac’s dad sparked his love for tennis, and he has never looked back since.

“He is the one who introduced me to tennis, the biggest influence, and is the reason I started playing,” Kijac said.

Kijac’s dad was also a tennis coach, which allowed Kijac to start playing at a young age.

“I started playing tennis when I was four or five years old,” Kijac said.

While in Serbia, Kijac played in a lot of different tennis clubs due to the connections his dad had.

“(My dad) knew everyone who is involved in tennis in Serbia,” Kijac said. “The club I am a part of now is called Djukic. I have been part of it since I was 14.”

Now that he is playing for the Marquette men’s tennis team, Kijac has a difference experience and atmosphere compared to what he was used to back home.

“I don’t know how to explain it, it just is,” Kijac said. “When I (have been) competing up until now, I am competing for myself. Now I am competing for a team.”

While Kijac is working on the adjustment to the United States, men’s tennis head coach Steve Rodecap is no stranger to having international players on his team.

“We deal with international players all the time, we have one from Montenegro,” Rodecap said. “(He’s) a very talented player who has the potential to make an impact on the program. … He can adapt and he has a fast moving hand.”

While at Marquette, the first-year tennis player is eager to accomplish some goals that he has already set for himself.

“My number one task here is tennis, to improve as much as I can and to give 100% on everything,” Kijac said.

After he leaves Marquette, Kijac plans to stick with the sport. He has one ultimate goal: “I want to play tennis and be just like my favorite tennis player, Novak Djokovic.”

“I want continue playing tennis after leaving Marquette,” Kijac said. “I want to go pro after I finish college.”

This story was written by Matthew Valente. He can be reached at matthew.valente@marquette.edu.