CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (seminoles.com) – Anna Arkadianou has excelled in the sport of tennis for as long as she can remember. From her incredible success as a junior player to competing at the famed SotoTennis Academy in the south of Spain, she has worked tirelessly on improving every aspect of her game.
Since singles tennis is among the consummate individual sports, the sophomore from Greece trained as just that – an individual.
But that all changed when she arrived at Florida State in the fall of 2020.
Fresh from FSU’s Elite Eight appearance in the 2021 NCAA Championship Tournament, Arkadianou and her teammates are back on the court this weekend as they travel to the Commonwealth of Virginia for a pair of important ACC matches against No. 11 ranked Virginia (March 18, 3:00 pm) and Virginia Tech (March 20, 1:00 pm).
The Seminoles enter this weekend’s ACC matches coming off of a victory over the Florida Gulf Coast, during which Arkadianou earned wins in both singles and doubles play. She has won six singles matches this spring, with another five victories coming in doubles play. Arkadianou and teammate Petra Hule are 4-1 in doubles play this year.
It is learning to play as part of a teammate that has allowed Arkadianou to take her game to a higher level in just two years as a Seminole.
“Tennis is a very individual sport,” she said. “When I first came in, I didn’t really understand what it was like playing for a team or the person next to you. College tennis is very different from pro tennis. In college tennis, you always have your coaches next to you, giving you tactics and helping you throughout the whole match. In pro tennis, coaches aren’t allowed to talk at all. ”
Arkadianou’s talent was evident during her freshman season. In helping the Seminoles to one of the top seasons in school history, she appeared in nine matches and recorded three victories over ranked opponents.
Along the way, the sophomore majoring in dietetics quickly learned what it meant to play for a team.
“At Florida State, you play for something bigger than yourself,” Arkadianou said. “You play for that symbol on your jersey; you play for your teammates and your team. You play for the people who have played here and created this (Florida State’s) legacy.
“I love the legacy Florida State has. In general, in football and historically. The best thing about being a Seminole is that the teams before us have set the standards and left a legacy and a path for us to follow. ”
Jen Hyde, the winningest coach in Florida State history, who is in her 18th season as the Seminoles’ head coach, sees greatness in Arkadianou’s future as a Seminole.
“Anna is a huge talent, with her best tennis ahead of her,” Hyde said. “She comes from a highly individualized tennis background and has really enjoyed being part of the collegiate‘ team tennis ’concept. She continues to grow as an individual competitor, all while seeing and embracing the importance of the ‘team’, and the idea of playing for something bigger. ”
Arkadianou’s gains haven’t been limited to the tennis court. She has eagerly assimilated herself into campus life and enjoys the student experience, something she missed while she learned remotely during much of her academic career.
“I was homeschooled for most of my school years,” she said. “I always wished I could be in a classroom as a normal student. Florida State has given me the normal student life again. I missed that when growing up and traveling around the world playing tennis. I love being back in class and learning in person instead of just from a textbook. ”
Being in a traditional academic setting has also allowed Arkadianou to challenge herself and begin to meet many of her own expectations.
“I have always set high goals as a tennis player and as a person in everyday life,” said Arkadianou. “I’m trying step-by-step to meet my goals as I’m growing here at Florida State.”
As she continues to grow both athletically and academically as a Seminole, Arkadianou’s teammates have realized her incredible abilities on the court, in the classroom and most importantly as a teammate.
“Anna has an energy that is a force to be reckoned with,” Hule said. “She is the most understanding and compassionate person I’ve come across. I enjoy playing with her as she always sees the good in any situation. Her fighting spirit drives me to be better, and always keep my head up.
“She’s a person who can keep it real and be honest with you but at the same time convey the message that all things can be worked on and improved no matter how bad it may seem at the time. She has a rare personality. It’s hard to come by someone as hard-working, yet fun and as well-rounded balanced a human that she is. ”
Arkadianou is developing into what she has wanted to be throughout her career – a true teammate in what is known as an individual sport.