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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Kaiser grows on and off the court at Marquette

(Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Playing collegiate tennis was not always on the table for junior Lara Kaiser.

Despite having a successful junior career in Austria, Kaiser did not consider playing in college until her final year of high school when she was competing on a professional circuit.

“I was in Egypt at that time, by myself and I was just like, ‘This is so lonely,’ because it’s tennis, you’re by yourself,” Kaiser said. “I got sick of that. Then my friends started to look into playing college tennis. I wanted to do the same thing and then I started looking.”

Before Marquette, Kaiser was a three-time doubles champion on Austrian courts and ranked as high as No. 1 in Austria at the junior level.

This success as a youngster led her to have offers from multiple colleges in the United States, but she chose Marquette because of Dusan Medan, the associate head coach of the women’s team.

“Dusan and I actually hit it off pretty quick. He was one of my first calls,” Kaiser said. “I was so nervous because I had to talk to people I didn’t know, language I didn’t really speak. But the thing was, Dusan is also not from here, he’s Serbian. So, we hit it off pretty well.”

Even though Medan was not able to travel to Austria to recruit Kaiser because of COVID-19, he had a positive feeling about her.

“I wasn’t able to make an in-person contact — which I usually do with international recruits — and make a visit to Austria, but obviously used our connections (and) then we heard a lot of good things about Lara,” Medan said. “The first impression was that she was very excited about coming to the US and playing college tennis. And number two was she wanted to get better.”

Medan said he did his due diligence on Kaiser during the recruiting process. But the actual offer came down to how she would fit in at Marquette.

“It was obviously talking to her the most, making sure it’s the right character (and) right personality to join our program, which 100% she met that expectation,” Medan said. “The deciding factor is definitely the personality and character of the person that you’re trying to bring in, because if that doesn’t fit the program that’s a problem. She was a great pick for us and she met all of our expectations.”

When she arrived on campus, the coaching staff made it a priority to develop her into a more aggressive player through drills that made her go past the baseline and up the court.

“One fall, we had her serving and volleying and returning and coming in (to the net) pretty much nonstop,” director of tennis Steve Rodecap said. “We didn’t care about her results. We didn’t care about anything. We just wanted her to get more comfortable doing that (going to the net).”

But what didn’t need to be changed was her character. It is what made her not only a Golden Eagle but also a leader.

During the 2022 Big East Tournament, Marquette struggled in its quarterfinal match against Creighton. Everything came down to Kaiser, the lone Marquette player on the court by the end. She was able to get the win for the Golden Eagles, sending them to the semifinals.

At the end of the season, Kaiser was named the Marquette women’s tennis program’s Most Improved Player, an award that is voted on by the players and coaches of the team.

Kaiser said the award gave her reassurance in her abilities coming into this season.

“I just came into the fall season super confidently. That’s also why I got the opportunity to play the bigger tournaments,” Kaiser said. “I got a lot more confident playing up in higher spots in the lineup because I proved my point last year that I deserve to be in the lineup.”

Senior Elizabeth Ferdman said that Kaiser’s mental strength helped her achieve success.

“She got over so many obstacles that she had to go through. Not even tennis wise, (but) with her mind. A lot of tennis is about just getting over mental blocks,” Ferdman said. “She started clinching matches and that’s an insane amount of pressure. The fact that she could get over it, first of all, and then to actually come out on top too just shows how tremendous her growth mentally (and) physically.”

But she isn’t just securing matches; she is also securing good grades.

Kaiser has been on the Big East All-Academic Team in both of her years at Marquette. Additionally, she most recently was named to the AD Honor Roll for the 2022 Fall Semester.

She said her success in the classroom manifests itself in poised play.

“I feel like if I have good grades, my head’s just clear and I can focus on tennis more,” Kaiser said. “Whenever I’m feeling confident with school, I’m confident on the court too.”

This story was written by Jack Albright. He can be reached [email protected] or on Twitter @JackAlbrightMU.

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About the Contributor
Jack Albright
Jack Albright, Executive Sports Editor
Jack Albright is a sophomore from Charlton, Massachusetts studying journalism. He is the Executive Sports Editor of the Marquette Wire for the 2023-24 school year. In his free time, Jack likes to hang out with friends and watch Formula 1. He is excited to write fun stories about all things Marquette athletics and oversee new types of digital content.

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