By Jeff White (email@example.com)
CHARLOTTESVILLE – As head coach of the women’s tennis team at Davidson College, Sara O’Leary tried, against long odds, to interest a celebrated junior player from the Pacific Northwest in attending the small private school outside Charlotte, N.C.
O’Leary had little scholarship money to offer, and Davidson is not a national power in tennis. Still, she connected well with Vivian Glozman, who grew up in Bellevue, Wash., across Lake Washington from Seattle.
“We communicated over the phone and had great conversations,” O’Leary recalled. “I really, really liked her. I loved watching her play in juniors. I knew she was a player that had a ton of potential and a really smart kid.
“I tried to get her to Davidson. It was a long shot, but it ended up working out a couple years later.”
In June 2017, O’Leary left Davidson to become the head women’s coach at the University of Virginia. Glozman enrolled that summer at the University of California, where she compiled a 17-11 record in singles in 2017-18.
Glozman wasn’t satisfied with the academic path she was following at Cal, however, and decided last summer to transfer. She ended up at UVA, in part because of the relationships she’d formed with O’Leary and assistant coach Gina Suarez-Malaguti, who was then at NC State, during the recruiting process.
“I had a little Word document of all the schools I talked to and what I thought about all the programs and the coaches,” Glozman said, “and I remember putting down how nice Sara was and how it seemed like she put together such a good program [at Davidson], and her teaching style was so good.”
Glozman enrolled at UVA in January. Her impressions of her new school?
“It’s amazing,” she said.
She’s already a key player for the 14th-ranked Cavaliers, who’ll host two ACC dual matches this weekend. At 4 p.m. Friday, Virginia (8-1 overall, 2-0 ACC) will meet No. 23 NC State (8-2, 0-0) indoors at the Boar’s Head Sports Club. At noon Sunday, with a Commonwealth Clash point at stake, UVA will take on Virginia Tech (4-4, 0-1).
Glozman, a sophomore, has a 6-1 record in singles. She’s 4-1 at No. 2 and 2-0 at No. 3. In doubles, she’s 2-2 with junior Hunter Bleser and 2-0 with freshman Sofia Munera.
“It’s been really fun to watch Vivian’s improvement over such a short amount of time,” O’Leary said. “I feel like Vivian’s very in tune with what she wants to work on in her game and how she wants to go about doing it. She’s very competitive, but she also uses her matches as a time to really get better and work on some things.”
Rosie Johanson, an All-ACC selection who played No. 1 singles for Virginia in 2017-18, is redshirting this year because of an injury. The addition of Glozman has helped the Wahoos overcome the loss of Johanson, O’Leary said, as has the leadership of the team’s two seniors, Meghan Kelley and Erica Susi.
“Finding out that Rosie wasn’t going to be back,” O’Leary said, “it’s definitely a situation where I think our team could have definitely dwelled on that and been like, ‘Woe is us, we lost our number one player, we’re not going to have as good a season.’
“I don’t feel like we’ve had that mentality at all. It’s like, ‘OK, this is the situation we’ve been dealt. It’s nobody’s fault, but it’s our responsibility how we respond to this,’ and I think that’s been led by our two captains.”
Also, O’Leary said, “I think not having Rosie in there has allowed everybody to play higher and play against better competition and feel what it’s like out there to be playing number three instead of number four, number four instead of number five. And I really think in the long run this is going to make us a much stronger team.”
Glozman didn’t make up her mind about transferring from Cal until late last summer, she said, and wasn’t able to enroll at UVA for the fall semester. So she lived at home with her parents – her father is a professor at Highline College, and her mother is a graphic designer — and her 12-year-old sister, Valerie.
“She was really happy that I could be home,” Glozman said. “We’re seven years apart, but we’re so, so close, and it was hard for her when I was [at Cal], because we spent so much time together [growing up].”
To stay busy, Glozman took a class at Bellevue College, in whose Running Start program she’d participated as a Newport High School student, and tried to keep her tennis skills sharp.
“That was something I was actually really worried about,” Glozman said, “because the people that I grew up hitting with were in college when I was home for the fall. So I was worried about getting deconditioned and not playing at the high level that I would be if I was here. But it was a really good time to play with new people and also rest, because I was injured [for part of] last season. And I think that helped.”
Glozman, who hopes to attend medical school, has applied to the kinesiology program in UVA’s Curry School of Education.
“That’s actually the main reason I transferred,” she said.
That Charlottesville is about 2,800 miles from Bellevue did not deter Glozman, who plans to pursue a career in sports medicine.
“We have a great kinesiology program here,” O’Leary said, “and I think she just really felt like, no matter the location, this is the place that’s going to make her better in the long run: on the court, off the court, giving her the opportunities she wants in her career.”
Like Cal, UVA is one of the nation’s most prestigious public universities. Glozman wasn’t sure how the academic culture in Charlottesville would compare to what she’d found in Berkeley. “So I did not know what to expect, but my experience at UVA so far has been very positive.”
At Virginia, students “are willing to help other people and they’re really supportive,” Glozman said, “and the kinesiology program I am hoping to get into is relatively small and feels like more of a family compared to what I experienced in giant lecture halls of 400 or more people.”
She shares an apartment with Jelena Novakovic, a standout on the volleyball team who transferred to UVA from Penn State in 2017. Glozman had never been to this state before visiting Charlottesville last summer, and she’s still adjusting to life on the East Coast. But her transition, on and off the tennis court, has been surprisingly smooth.
“She’s super focused and passionate, and she’s come in and really had a great impact on the program,” O’Leary said. “We’ve loved having her.”