Rebels women’s tennis:

6 questions with … UNLV tennis star Aleksandra Josifoska

A junior with a 16-3 record, Josifoska leads the Rebels into this weekend’s Mountain West Tournament with their sights on the top prize

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UNLV Photo Services

UNLV junior Aleksandra Josifoska returns a shot during practice. Currently the team’s top player, Josifoska is 21-1 in Mountain West regular season matches. Her only loss came in 2011.

Aleksandra Josifoska’s passport is probably better than yours, and in a lot of cases it’s not even close.

The UNLV junior tennis player was born in Macedonia and lived in Spain for a year while traveling and playing all across Europe before matriculating to Las Vegas, where she’s all but a lock for the Mountain West Player of the Year award. Even inside the United States she’s been to both coasts for tournaments and spent last summer interning in New York as part of her hospitality management degree.

And what has she done in all of those places? Mostly win. Josifoska, who's currently ranked No. 35 in the country, comes from an athletic family — her brother, Hristijan, was a soccer goalie and still plays in rec leagues.

“He is a big motivation for me because he is pushing me all the time,” Josifoska said.

Her father, Ljube, is into skiing and karate and her mother, Sonja, is also athletic. With those genes Josifoska, despite starting her tennis career relatively late, cracked the top 500 in the world before enrolling at UNLV.

We caught up with Josifoska on Tuesday, a day before the team left for this weekend’s Mountain West Tournament in Colorado Springs, Colo.:

This interview was edited for content and clarity

You’re 16-3 this year. Do you think more about the wins or losses?

The three losses. I’m happy with my wins, obviously, but I’m still, it’s not that I can’t get over the ones I lost but I still think of them. All three were in the third set. One of the matches I was up 3-0 and I lost 6-3. Then I lost another in the super tiebreaker and then again in the third set. They were really close, tough matches.

How did you end up at UNLV?

Very accidentally and out of nowhere. I was just starting on the women’s tour, playing futures tournaments. I was playing for a year and doing pretty well, but then it was getting too expensive. I never considered going to college because the tour was going well and I was dreaming of being this tennis star and playing these big events. My parents kind of pushed me to college because I could get a scholarship, get an education and get good practice, too. Accidentally, I met these two guys in Germany, Johannes Markel and Rene Ruegamer*, and they told me about UNLV. Then I heard that Lucia was going, too. We’ve known each other through juniors tournaments since we were 13. And she was good, so I figured the school must be good, too. I think it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.

*Markel is a senior on this year’s men’s team. Ruegamer graduated last year.

Has it been hard being this far away from home?

Kind of. When school or tennis get hard and you’re tired, you know you don’t have your mother or father next to you, you can only talk on Skype or the phone. Sometimes I feel lonely and I miss them but I’ve been living and traveling on my own since I was 14 or 15. I’ve pretty much never been at home so it’s not so hard for me.

Had you ever heard of Las Vegas in Macedonia?

Yes. All I knew was partying (laughs). I think that’s what everyone thinks of Las Vegas. Before I came I did a little more research. I really like it. Many people find it very distractive and sometimes I do too, but I’m usually so busy I don’t have time for those other things. It’s much different from anywhere I’ve lived or been before.

What are some of the ways Macedonia differs from America?

Food is totally different. Public transportation is better. The size of everything is much smaller. We don’t have all these huge shopping malls everywhere, all these hotels. We don’t have stores like Wal-Mart or stuff like that. For example, when you go grocery shopping you don’t buy food for the whole week because there are so many of these little stores where you can buy food any time you want.

Tupac or Biggie?

Tupac or who? Who is that? Definitely Tupac. I live at the intersection where Tupac got shot, but I never heard of the other one. “Changes” is my favorite Tupac song. Maybe the only one I know.

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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