STEVENS: On & Off The Court, Lobo Ola Abou-Zekry Is a Fighter
April 9, 2009
THE ABOU-ZEKRY FILE
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
When you watch Ola Abou-Zekry play tennis, you need to watch for it. "It" is something that sparks and rumbles inside Ola. It's a changeling type of thing; an emotion, a competitive gene, that stirs and simmers beneath the skin line and then bubbles or maybe roars to the surface.
It's a little bit like what happens to "The Hulk" when something doesn't sit right with the big guy and he gets ticked and Mr. Nice Guy becomes Mr. Bad Green Guy.
Ola sometimes gets ticked on the tennis courts. Oh, heck, let's admit it. She often gets ticked on the tennis court, but that's really a good thing for Ola. She plays better as The Hulk. She plays better with a snarl than with a smile.
"She is a fighter. She is tenacious on the court," said Lobo coach Kathy Kolankiewicz. "She is a great competitor and you can't teach that."
The biography on Ola on GoLobos.com says she's an emotional player who plays with a lot of heart. Yeah, that's true. But there is a bit of anger in this Lobo, too.
"A lot of the time it helps me," said the University of New Mexico senior. "There is a part of me that is bad temper, but I usually play better when I get angry. Sometimes I start slow and I need something to get me motivated."
"I hate losing more than anything and I just don't go out there to play. I'm there to win and I'm pretty intense. Sometimes my temper hurts me, but I think most of the time it's a good thing for me. The coaches aren't always happy with me, though."
So, Ola, are you saying you are a little John McEnroe-ish out there?
"Well, sometimes I get too angry at myself or maybe other things and I might yell or throw my racket," she said. "But I try not to break them because I have to buy them."
The intense thing seems to work well for this little Lobo Hulk, who isn't very Hulkish at 5-foot-2. She is 8-2 in her past ten matches and has moved into the No. 10 spot in UNM career singles' wins with 78. She has earned All-MWC and All-MWC academic honors as a Lobo and is UNM's only nationally ranked player.
Her immediate goal is to grab a MWC title at the MWC championships which will be played in Albuquerque on April 22-25.
Ola said as a young athlete in Cairo, she also played basketball and did some swimming. "I was short for basketball," she said. "I left swimming after a coach wanted me to hold my breath under the water and she was kind of holding me down and choking me, so I decided I was done with that."
"I love tennis and I don't want to let go of it (after school) because it's been a good part of my life since I was seven. I might coach a bit."
Ola wasn't first destined to be a Lobo. She said she accepted an offer to play at Wake Forest, but failed to get some necessary documents to that school on time. Then Ola went hunting for another U.S. college and decided on UNM.
The Kolankiewicz/Abou-Zekry clashes probably will go down in Lobo tennis lore, but the neat thing is that Ola made it to her senior year. It almost didn't happen and during her sophomore year she even asked UNM for an official release so she could transfer.
"I probably speak my mind too much and I'm probably not very diplomatic," said Ola. "If I don't agree with something, I'll say how I feel and it doesn't' always come out the right way. For now, whatever I feel, I say."
And that goes for on the court and off the court. For Ola, the Hulk thing isn't restricted to what happens between the lines. "I'll probably always fight for what I think is right," she said.
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and sports columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at email@example.com. Previous articles are available at The Richard Stevens Corner