UM Tennis rallies behind Ukrainian teammate – NBC 6 South Florida
With a war raging in her home country, it’s hard for University of Miami tennis player Diana Khodan to focus on her sport.
Fortunately, her team is rallying around her to make sure she feels supported during this difficult time away from home.
“I feel like it’s my mission to fight here, because my people are fighting in Ukraine and when I’m between the lines I’m also fighting for my country,” Khodan said. “So that’s probably also the motivation right now.”
“D is the person who is always laughing and cracking jokes,” said doubles partner Maya Tahan. “It’s all positive and energetic and the fact that she continues to do that during these times is inspiring.”
When not in the field, Diana reaches out to her family in Ukraine: her grandparents, parents and brother all live in the country during the war with Russia.
Luckily they live out west so things are safer, but that doesn’t make it easy for him here in Miami.
“Hearing my mom ‘Yeah, I’m alive, we’re alive, we’re safe’, that’s obviously awful. I can’t even imagine what they’re going through, because you can’t understand unless you’re there. , and so it’s hard for me because I’m so far away from them,” she said.
“I think throughout the situation we just understood how strong and resilient she is, how much she loves Ukraine and what a fighter she is,” the associate head coach said. from UM, Alex Santos.
To show their support for Diana, the Miami tennis program decided to wear the Ukrainian flag on their uniforms during competition last week. It was a gesture that moved Diana to tears.
“When I’m on the tennis courts I try not to think – but when everyone’s wearing this, and I’m like ‘oh my God’. It was good and I think it was really good that we did that,” she said.
“We just wanted to show here that we are here with you, we support you, we support your family, we support your country,” Santos added. “We don’t think what’s happening right now is right, and we just wanted to show that we’re fighting alongside you and that you can count on us, not just for tennis, but for life.”
Even amid the chaos, Diana finds solace in serving aces with her team.
“When I’m on the tennis court I just try to stay between the lines and keep my thoughts out. I think obviously that’s my happiest place so that helps a lot. right now,” Khodan said.
“We try to be sensitive, but I think she does an amazing job of how she handles everything,” Tahan said. “If you feel like she’s having a bad time or something, she uses those times to be a better player, to be more aggressive and to give more to the team.”
The men’s team also wore the flag on their uniforms in support of Ukraine and Diana. She said the best way to help her country in these difficult times is to donate through local organizations.