Milinkovic and Jozwiak a Hit in Mixed Doubles
July 5, 2012
Why not compete in mixed doubles of the US Open Midwest Sectional Qualifying Tournament at Mason, Ohio near Cincinnati?
As a tennis pro at the Five Seasons Sports Club in Northbrook, Jozwiak was in good shape. The 2011 graduate who was No. 1 doubles as a senior has continued to compete in local tournaments.
Milinkovic went to work as a Blue Demon graduate assistant coach after graduating in 2011, and this was her first competitive event since the BIG EAST Conference Championship her senior year.
"At Five Seasons I'm spending nine or 10 hours a day on the court, and what do I choose to do on a little vacation---more tennis!" Jozwiak said about the June 30-July 3 event.
"Katarina is such a great competitor and was very good at DePaul. I knew we had a chance to go very far in the tournament. There aren't too many couples out there actively competing.
"This was the first time we have ever played together, and we learned a lot about each other's playing style."
They played several practice matches in mixed doubles and Blue Demon women's tennis coach Mark Ardizzone helped restore Milinkovic's competitive level during several workouts.
The DePaul duo easily won their first two matches in advancing to the July 2nd semifinal against a talented pair from Ohio.
"The woman is ranked No. 40 in WTA singles and has played doubles in all the Grand Slam events," Milinkovic said. "Her partner is close to 7-feet tall and served 120 miles per hour."
Nonetheless, Bartosz and Katarina won the first set 6-4. They fell in the second set 7-5 and battled to a 10-5 loss in the super tie-breaker.
"The other couple had more experience and that was the difference," Milinkovic said. "That was the first time I had faced a top-40 player. She was one of the best I have ever played.
"The first two matches, we didn't feel any pressure. There was no drama, and we knew we were going to win. We weren't prepared for that semifinal match. The Ohio doubles team had two good matches coming into the semifinals.
"I knew Bartosz was a very good doubles player. He was a No. 1 doubles player at DePaul and had some ranked wins his senior year. I felt some pressure looking to keep up with him."
Milinkovic helped lead DePaul to its first NCAA tournament appearance as a junior. She was All-BIG EAST three years and the Blue Demons' No. 1 singles and doubles player her senior season.
"It was a wonderfully organized tournament held at the same court that hosts ATP and WTA events," Jozwiak said. "This is where all the big stars come to play. It was a magnificent experience playing on center stadium court.
"It was my idea. We both had a lot of motivation to play together. It was a perfect trip driving out to Cincinnati and a nice break from our everyday routines."
The couple rode the roller coasters at Kings Island Amusement Park and celebrated Milinkovic's birthday during the trip.
The tournament rekindled their competitive fire.
"We realized during the tournament that we actually fit very well together," Milinkovic said. "He is a good server and I have good returns. He is very aggressive at the net and I'm good at backing him up.
"This new experience at mixed doubles has sparked our passion for the sport. We would both like to play in a mixed doubles tournament again."