Passion Is Born
At three years old, Katarina Kozarov was introduced to tennis. At five, she fell in love with the sport. The individuality. The competition. The dedication required. As with any love, she followed it around the world. Specifically, she followed her love more than 5,400 miles – temporarily leaving her mother – from Novi Sad, Serbia to Bradenton, Florida, and proceeded to learn more about herself than she ever imagined.
Where it all began...
Morning after morning, the routine was the same. Katarina would wake up and walk to the house of neighbor/coach Vladimir Vasić, make him coffee (yes, she made the coffee) and then train on his court for hours. “He helped me so much fall in love with the sport. He taught me everything. Friendship, family, tennis, school... He’d work with me on everything.”
Chasing A Dream
At 12 years old, Katarina traveled to Florida for the first time to attend an IMG Academy camp. Everything about the experience, from meeting Nick Bollettieri to the coaching received, forever changed her life. “When I took this photo, I printed at least a hundred copies and showed all my friends at home. He motivated me so much. He made me feel like I was close to where I wanted to get to.”
Leap Of Faith
At 14, Katarina earned acceptance into IMG Academy’s boarding school. With her mother staying in Novi Sad, Katarina and her father moved across the world despite Milos’ culinary skills limited to cooking eggs and Katarina only having a basic understanding of English. Her determination and drive to improve – on the court and in the classroom – helped her swiftly pick up the language, as she was placed into classes for native English speakers after less than a semester.
Putting It All Together
As a junior, Katarina earned the Dartmouth Prize Book Award and spoke at the 2015 commencement ceremony. “I was so nervous. I still don’t remember parts of what I said.” She became a member of the National Honor Society, National English Honor Society and Student Ambassadors. She volunteered with the Boys & Girls Club and Special Olympics. She carried a 4.23 GPA through her senior year with multiple AP and honors classes. The accomplishments were enough for Furman to offer Katarina a full scholarship.
The next chapter
“(Graduating from IMG) means so much. Not only because of the reputation, but to me, I have completed a big chapter of my life. Furman gives me the opportunity to have great academics and great tennis at the same time. But IMG Academy is a home I can always come back to.”