Victoria Mamatova: Sports in her blood

She began playing tennis at the age of 9 when she was living in Indonesia.

Now, 18, Victoria Mamatova has been ranked fourth on the Santa Monica College women's tennis team in singles and second in doubles, after nine years of dedication.

As the granddaughter of Viktor Mamatov, former four-time biathlon Olympic gold medalist, she knew sports was in her future.

“I had to pick a sport to play because being athletic is kind of our culture. It’s in our blood,” said Mamatova.

She played varsity tennis throughout high school. When she was 14, she would play tennis for five to seven hours every day until she suffered a knee injury.

“Bouncing on the court for five hours per day takes a toll on your knees,” said Mamatova. “At one point I was unable to walk for a whole week. I took a break for six months, but I wanted to return because I loved it.”

When she first came to SMC, Mamatova said she set her education as her priority. She is a member of the scholars program and the Alpha Gamma Sigma Honors Society. She regularly participates in clubs and activities on campus.

“Tennis was especially exciting because I really felt like I was representing the Corsairs through my leadership qualities and sportsmanship,” she said.

Playing tennis has always given joy to Mamatova. She said she tries to maintain a balance between tennis, school, and an internship she has with Unicom Systems Inc., a global company that provides information technology services to Fortune 500 and Global 2000 companies, as well as volunteer service in extracurricular activities.

I really wanted to practice my leadership skills being on a team," she said. "I thought to myself that I can do this."

Mamatova said that another added value from tennis that she believes is important is that, as an international sport, she feels it could help her break any language barriers since she enjoys new languages and travel.

Although she is not exactly sure yet, Mamatova said she is considering the University of Southern California, the University of California Los Angeles, Stanford and Pepperdine as possibilities for transferring.

“I would only want to transfer local because I believe that California holds many opportunities for me, and also has great weather,” said Mamatova.

After this tennis season, Mamatova said she wants to take a month off. She plans on playing in a few women’s open tournaments to improve her skills and prepare for next season.

“This will also improve my chances of being scouted or maybe walking on,” said Mamatova.

Trying to remain focused, Mamatova, who majors in business administration, said she wants to concentrate on her studies, keeping tennis at the forefront.

“If being a professional would be possible I would definitely take the chance,” said Mamatova.

Being on the SMC team for the first time, Mamatova said there was an instant connection when she learned that one of her former tennis coaches also coached the Lady Corsairs head coach Richard Goldenson.

Goldenson was formerly tutored by Robert Landsdorp, who has also coached tennis stars such as Maria Sharapova.

“Coach [Goldenson] was very knowledgeable with the tennis technique and tactics of the game," said Mamatova. "He is a very smart coach who is dedicated to improving his athletes game.”

Though Goldenson has helped her with her technique in her games, Mamatova said she believes that the most important thing she learned was mental toughness.

“It is very important to be not only physically tough, but also mentally when you play tennis. It is like playing chess with a lot of movement and [Goldenson] really understands and cares to improve everyone's game just as equally,” said Mamatova.

Mamatova played in the State Championships in Ojai this past weekend, along with several of her teammates, who she said did well.

The biggest highlight, she said, was when she and doubles teammate Carmel Peterson took to the court and played one of the longest matches they have ever been in.

The three-and-a-half-hour match lasted from 5 to 9 p.m. The team ultimately came up short.

“Next year I believe my team will be even stronger,” said Mamatova. “We had a lot of people who were first-year tennis students.”