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Making a Racket

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Hard hitter Bianca Turati is the force behind the University of Texas women’s tennis revival.

By Gretchen M. Sanders, Photo courtesy of UT Athletics

University of Texas athlete Bianca Turati takes care of business on the tennis court. The sophomore won 28 of her 32 singles matches last season and held the No. 1 ranking in women’s collegiate competition for nearly three months.

Her victories have put Texas tennis back on the map. No Longhorn has earned the top singles spot in 23 years.

Turati, whose serve can reach 105 miles per hour, grew up in Italy and started playing tennis at age 6. Eventually, she would compete in every major Grand Slam junior tournament.

Her twin sister, Anna Turati, also took to the game, and their reputation as talented hitters traveled far.

One day, out of the blue, Howard Joffe, the University of Texas head women’s tennis coach, contacted the sisters’ parents through Facebook and asked if he could visit their home near Milan.

“I really liked him as a person and as a coach,” Bianca Turati says.

She and her sister, who enjoy playing doubles together but dread playing singles against one another, agreed to try Texas for a year. After an initial struggle with English, they found fast friends in their Longhorn teammates and new lives in Austin. Tennis remains their driving force.

“I love the game because you can always turn a match around,” Bianca Turati says. “You can be down a set and 4-3 in the second, and you can win.”

She does plenty of that. Last spring, Bianca Turati was named the Big 12 Player of the Year and was the top seed of the singles draw in the NCAA championships in Winston- Salem, N.C. UT finished sixth overall, its highest team ranking since 2005.

In May, Bianca Turati was one of four women nominated for the Honda Sport Award for Tennis. The winner of that honor has a shot at becoming Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year. Bianca Turati will also earn All-American honors this summer.

Here’s how this Wimbledon hopeful keeps her eye on the ball.

THE A.M.:

“I wake up at 7:30 a.m., look at my phone, and get breakfast; it’s the most important meal for me. I usually have an omelet.”

THE WORKOUT:

“We have team practice for two hours a day, six days a week. On every weekday but Wednesday, we do either a weightlifting or a conditioning session, which includes running. Before classes on three mornings a week, we have private lessons with Coach Howard. We don’t do anything on Sundays.”

THE DIET:

“I get super hungry because of my training. I try to eat carbs at every meal, whether it’s rice or pasta, and I also eat plenty of protein and vegetables. In Italy, I drink white wine with my family at dinner. I tend to cramp during matches when they get long and when I get nervous, so I like to have salt and electrolytes that I put in Gatorade. I drink water at every changeover during a match, and I make sure I get those electrolytes.”

THE GEAR:

“I play with a Head Instinct racket, and I use Head Pro Grip Overgrip so I can hold it when my hands sweat. Of course, shoes are important. Nike sponsors UT, but I got permission to wear Asics shoes instead. I like them because they’re lighter, they don’t give me blisters and they allow me to slide on the court better. We wear Nike skirts and tank tops for matches and Nike shorts and T-shirts for practices. I wear a headband because it makes me look like a lighter on the court.”

THE MOTIVATION:

“I just love tennis. I expect a lot of myself and I want to do the best that I can in whatever I do. I enjoy being on the court and I want to be the best in the sport.”

THE MINDSET:

“Working hard every day in practice pays off in the matches. That’s my strength, to never give up at any point in the match, to stay focused and to try to win every single point.”

THE P.M.:

“I like to get enough sleep, at least eight hours. If I have to play a match, then I get 10 hours. When I don’t sleep, I’m not focused enough to do well in practice. Sometimes I watch sports or Pretty Little Liars before bed. My bedtime is 11 p.m.”

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