Mylan World TeamTennis celebrates its 40th birthday this year. For more on WTT, including this season's schedule,
Summer always comes early for Australia’s Jarmila Gajdosova.
The former world No. 25 has had her share of trials and tribulations since her breakthrough 2010 season. After reaching the second week of back-to-back Grand Slam singles tournaments, Gajdosova went through a myriad of personal and professional traumas, from losing her mother to struggling to maintain the consistency of her powerhouse game. With all she has been through, the Slovak-born Aussie began 2015 with simple goals, all in the hopes of rebuilding her WTA ranking.
“My first goal was first and foremost to stay healthy,” Gajdosova said in an interview with WTT.com. “Rankings and tournaments don’t matter if you aren’t healthy enough to get on the court and compete at a high level.”
Through a resurgent 2014 season, Gajdosova rocketed over 160 spots from a nadir of No. 238, but still had a few more hurdles at home. For all of her past successes, the Aussie had never won a match at her home major, losing the first round in all nine previous appearances. For an athlete who holds herself to high standards, it was a black mark that was hard to ignore.
“For my home grand slam to be the only tournament not to win a round in was just unacceptable to me.”
With a refreshed physique and renewed confidence, Gajdosova battled through two tough wins over Top 20 opponents to reach the quarterfinals of Sydney, but the best was yet to come in Melbourne. Playing a fellow former Top 30 player in Alexandra Dulgheru, the Aussie played with her signature aggression to capture an emphatic and emotional straight-sets victory.
“That first win in Melbourne was extremely special to me,” Gajdosova admitted. “It was a really tough match but I don’t know if anyone was going to keep me from breaking that ‘curse.’ It was great to start off the year with some success at home.”
With the Australian summer behind her, Gajdosova now plans to chase the sun at breakneck speed, committing to a fourth season at Mylan World TeamTennis. Playing for the newly created California Dream, the 28-year-old has WTT pedigree, winning the 2007 Rookie of the Year and leading Kansas City to the King Trophy in 2010 – earning the distinction of Finals MVP in the process.
“I really enjoy the aspects of WTT that make it different than just playing normal tournaments – like being part of a team and playing with other men and women towards team success. It’s a great change of pace to have in the middle of the season that adds fun elements like music, fan interaction, and fast-paced matches.”
Returning for the professional league’s auspicious 40th season, Gajdosova sees Mylan WTT’s longevity as a credit to not only those who make it possible, but also to the popularity of the sport itself.
“I think it really says something for the fan base that tennis as a sport has. When you combine that with the spirit and support that cities and states have to get behind their own teams, it doesn’t surprise me at all that the WTT has been going strong for 40 years. I expect it to continue to grow for many years to come!”
A Fed Cup stalwart, Gajdosova certainly looks forward to the team dynamic Mylan WTT provides; playing for Australia in February’s tie against Germany, the veteran earned her first Top 10 victory of the season over Angelique Kerber.
“It’s really a different kind of motivation to play for others who are depending on you. I thrive on the pressures that are there during team competitions. It’s not just about feeling bad when you lose, but you don’t want the added feeling of letting your teammates down as well.”
Though singles has been her priority of late, the Aussie has all of the ingredients to mix well on a team featuring doubles experts Bob and Mike Bryan, and Anabel Medina Garrigues. In 2013, Gajdosova partnered compatriot Matthew Ebden to win the Australian Open mixed doubles title, and relishes the opportunity to share the court in California.
“The thing about WTT is you have to be ready to play whatever your team needs you. I really enjoy mixed doubles, but my singles playing has been coming back slowly but surely, and I’m ready to take on anybody in singles, doubles or mixed!”
The Dream have been excited to make their mark on the competition since March’s Mylan WTT Draft, with Gajdosova already in contact with her teammates.
“The first tournament after the draft this year I heard Anabel come up behind and say, ‘Hey, California Dream!!’ We are definitely excited to be playing together and the Bryans are very nice. Hopefully we can put on some good mixed doubles performances with them.”
With the three-week road trip promising a non-stop pace, Gajdosova plans to document her experiences and keep up with fans with a little help from social media. Known as “Jarka” online, her Instagram and Twitter accounts are must-follows ahead of the 2015 season.
“Instagram is where I spend most of my time. Pictures can just say so much more than words, and since that is linked to my Twitter it just makes things that much easier! I love sharing my dogs, my silly moments, and my style and fashion with my friends and fans.”
Through all of her struggles, the Aussie still finds solace on the tennis court, and plans to give this next chapter of her career everything she has.
“The old adage comes to mind, ‘If you love your job, you never have to work a day in your life.’
“I love playing tennis and I love that my work takes place outside in the sunshine, and takes me all over the world. Even though some practices kick my butt and may seem like work at the time, I don’t ever have to wake up on Monday morning and think, ‘Ugh I have to go to work today.
“I love what I do and am very grateful to have made a career out of it.”