By Pranay Malempati | Sports Writer
It is not often, after losing a highly touted player in the recruiting process, that a team will have an opportunity to bring in that player the very next season. But the Baylor women’s tennis team was lucky enough to have that second chance.
Anastasia Kharitonova, a tennis player from Russia, originally chose to play for the University of Florida over Baylor prior to the 2018-2019 season. After a solid freshman season at Florida, where she was a consistent starter for a national top 25 team, she elected to enter the transfer portal and eventually come to Baylor.
Kharitonova said when she made the decision to transfer, Baylor was on the forefront of her mind.
“When I decided to transfer, the first school I talked to was Baylor,” Kharitonova said. “[Baylor head coach Joey Scrivano] was always nice to me and tried to help me as much as he could.”
She also said she liked the environment of the team when she visited.
“I came for a visit here, with the team,” Kharitonova said. “I knew some of the Russian girls before because we played together since we were like 10 years old. I saw that the girls were really nice to each other and treated it like a family.”
Scrivano said that he had followed Kharitonova at Florida because he was interested in how she was playing. But he said he was surprised when he saw her name in the transfer portal and had another opportunity to bring her to Waco.
Now, Kharitonova is a top of the lineup player for Baylor. She plays at No. 1 or No. 2 singles every match and has already beaten two players who are ranked in the top 100 in the NCAA. Kharitonova, who is currently ranked at 102 in the country for singles, is the team’s only ranked player.
Scrivano said he enjoys coaching her and is glad he was able to bring her to Baylor.
“All the credit goes to [Kharitonova],” Scrivano said. “She has come in with a really good mindset. She’s all about getting better. She’s very coachable. From a coaching perspective, that’s all you can ask for. When a player comes in and they’re open to working on things in their game that can make a difference.”
Kharitonova said it’s awesome to be part of a great team this season. She said she is focused on helping the team succeed and keep winning matches.
“7-0 means a lot,” Kharitonova said. “It’s not about my success now, because the girls are really motivated to keep going and show the results on the court. We really work hard at it, the coaches and assistant coaches try and help us as much as they can. Things are going well now. We are going to hold this motivation, this opportunity to play our next matches.”
Kharitonova said she appreciates the people around her at Baylor and on the tennis team.
“I’m really grateful for my teammates,” Kharitonova said, “and my team and my coaches. I’m proud of my team.