The way Trevor Svadja puts it, he just started playing tennis last year. Well, at least taking it seriously. But if his name sounds familiar, it’s because the 17-year-old Californian is now following in the footsteps of his big brother, Zachary, who is rising in the ATP ranks.
Svadja (pronounced SVAY-da) was the Boys’ 18 finalist in August, losing to two-time champion Learner Tien in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The two faced off again Thursday in the second round of the Greenview Development & Majestic Realty Men’s Pro Tennis Open, and this time Tien won in a third-set tiebreaker, 6-4, 5-7, 10-1. Svadja received a wild card to the Austin event, which Zachary won two years ago.
In the first round this year, Svadja defeated Cleeve Harper, 6-4, 7-6 (5). The high school student from San Diego stayed calm and collected to defeat the Longhorn senior on his home court at the Texas Tennis Center.
“Before I got into the match, I just wanted to make sure I was calm the whole time,” Svadja said about his first-round win. “That’s what I went over with my coach, win or lose just stay calm. There were some tough points in the match and he was playing well on the important points.”
He said he has looked to his brother for inspiration. Zachary, 20, is ranked No. 141 on the ATP tour, close to his career high of No. 139 achieved last month.
“He definitely inspired me to play tennis because I wasn’t playing until about a year ago,” Trevor Svadja said. “This is my first year I’ve actually started taking things seriously so he’s definitely helped me a lot.”
His older brother’s advice has helped him grow his career. At the U.S. Open juniors, Trevor defeated Wimbledon junior champion Henry Searle in the second round. In November 2022 he won a junior tournament in San Diego.
He uses his strong forehand to his advantage, especially when he’s on the run.
“My forehand down the line out wide (is my best shot) when they get me on the stretch,” Svadja said.
Off the court, he focuses on his schoolwork, which he has been able to do online. The transition to full-time tennis training has been challenging, he said, so he chooses to decompress with video games as he did before he became committed to tennis.
“It’s definitely been tough with the school part of it,” Svadja said.”It’s nice that I can just do everything online and I just try to get that done as quickly as I can and then have the whole day to train and play tennis.”
Before he started playing tennis, he said he was your typical teenage gamer. He still uses video games as a way to decompress outside of tennis.
“I was kind of a professional Fortnight player so that was my thing,” Svadja said. “I don’t play much anymore, but I definitely do that in my free time.”
He hasn’t made a decision about playing at the collegiate level, but he said he’s making his decision soon. With his coach based out of Dallas and family in the state, he’s mostly been looking at Texas colleges to be “so close to family.”
“I’m actually deciding after this tournament,” Svidja said. “My oldest brother’s here and he lives in Austin.”
— Article by Lindsey Plotkin and photograph by Regina Magana Chavez of Bevo Video Productions, a division of Texas Student Media at UT-Austin’s Moody College of Communication