March 30, 2012
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Like many of her international teammates, University of San Diego sophomore tennis player Idil Haciraifoglu is immersed an entirely new cultural experience during her time at USD. Haciraifoglu, a native of Izmir, Turkey, has yet to see regular time on the court, but nonetheless relishes the opportunity to live in San Diego and take in all that it has to offer. After only appearing in one match as a freshman in 2011 (a 6-2, 6-2 win over Santa Clara's Jessica Agra), Haciraifoglu is 6-5 overall this season, including a 1-2 dual singles mark. She posted her first dual singles win of the year against BYU's Aubrey Paul on Mar. 19 with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory. We sat down with Idil to get a better idea of who she is off the court.
USD Media Relations: How did you get involved in tennis?
Idil Haciraifoglu: My parents took me to the tennis club and asked me if I would like to try it. I did and I loved it. I was eight years old and since that day it's become the biggest part of my life, so thanks to my parents.
USD: What are some of your tennis career highlights?
IH: At BYU, that's the most recent one. We all fought that match and it almost came down to me and Cara (Brown) at the end and I lost the first set and I was down and brought it back and won the whole match. Outside of USD, when I was 16 years-old I was chosen for the ITF junior team and with that team we played three tournaments and traveled around. We were a team of players from all around the world chosen by the coaches from the ITF. Those coaches came to Turkey and we were in a camp for two weeks and at the end they told me they would like me to be on the team. I was the first player to be chosen from Turkey, so it was my biggest highlight.
USD: What is your dream job and why?
IH: What I would love to make a living out of is to be interactive with people and be able to move around constantly, just travel, and create events that could contribute something to people. Events that are fun and exciting and eventful, but it's not just some event, at the end of it people would get something out of it.
USD: What attracted you to USD when you were deciding where to come to school?
IH: The team. After that, it was the location, the school, the weather, all those factors that everyone loves about San Diego. I had a list of schools and during that process of me deciding I was eliminating some and at the end it came down to Rice and USD. Rice is great academically but what I cared about was team more, and the team at USD was a better fit. And when I thought about where Rice is and USD is, it wasn't a hard decision.
USD: What are your most and least favorite parts of training/practice?
IH: The best thing is when I'm on the court and just the feeling and the sound of the ball like when you do the shot right. The whole feeling of yourself on the court and you just fighting for the point; I think that's the best feeling I can get. The worst part is the commitment it takes is so tough. I remember myself saying a million times, `I can't come because I have practice... I can't because I have a tournament.' I have to plan everything according to my tennis schedule and that's really tough. Sometimes you feel like you're missing out.
USD: When you're not playing or going to class, what do you like to do?
IH: Go to the beaches, of course. I like to be with my friends. Being with the people you love is just the best thing. I'm not necessarily like, `Let's go out to the club', but wherever the music is, I'll be there. I love visiting art galleries. I also love photography. Basically everywhere I go I take my camera with me. I'm very active. I like to get out and see new places and try new things.
USD: Since you've been in the United States, what kind of cultural differences have you noticed from your native Turkey?
IH: There are things that I love about the United States mentality and there are things that are hard for me to adjust to because it's just not how I grew up. One thing that I love about my country is that we're really warm people and we're so close to each other. Like, even though we don't know the person, we would host people in our house and we're so welcoming and everything. But the thing I love about the United States is that people are really open-minded and they can just express their ideas, their feelings, what they think freely, and I love that.
USD: Who are some of the people who have influenced you athletically and personally?
IH: Roger Federer. He's like the god of tennis. I have so much respect for him. On the court and off the court, he's such a role model. And off the court, John Lennon because of The Beatles, but also because of his activist attitude. He created that movement and that's really important and significant in history. I respect all the figures in the world that have had an impact. It doesn't have to be internationally, but just a big impact; those are the people that influence me. I get inspired by them. It could be an author, it could be an actor, it could be a painter; anything as long as they had an impact. Or even just a song can influence me greatly.
USD: What's something unique about you that people would be surprised to know?
IH: When I was a baby I was in an advertisement in a magazine for some baby product. That's something people are surprised to find out. I have the picture and show it and people can't believe it.
USD: If you weren't playing tennis at USD, what do you think you'd be doing?
IH: I would be traveling, of course. I would take a year off. I'm just 21 years-old, but I already feel like I'm missing out on whatever's out there to be experienced and to be seen. I would take time for my own self development. It would be so many things. When I say travel, people take it as this soul-searching, finding-yourself kind of thing, but it's not necessarily that. I sometimes live in my head, like I'm such a dreamer that that actually leads me to just go out there.
USD: What is a motto or personal philosophy that you live by?
IH: That we should all strive to live a life that's right for us and make the best out of the present time. We should all inspire each other and live in the moment and make the best out of it, because if not now, when?