WILLIAMSBURG — Back in 2006, a young Mila Saric picked up a tennis racket for the first time in her life.
The game was different back then for the future William & Mary tennis star. In those formative days, Saric was close to 7 years old and she picked up a racket so that she could join her friends in friendly matches of tennis.
However, it was during those earlier tennis experiences that she found a knack for competition and a drive that has earned her a national top-100 ranking in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Division I Women’s Preseason Singles Rankings during her 2021 season with the Tribe. After years of hard training and learning the sport, Saric has earned her a spot at number 97 in the country.
“My coach texted me the news one day after practice while I was eating dinner,” said Saric. “It was a relief, the past couple of years I worked really hard.”
Saric joined the William & Mary Tennis team back in the 2018 season as a Freshman. The 2018-2019 season ended in great success for Saric as she was named Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Rookie of the Year in 2019.
Prior to her decision to join the tennis team, she had been living in Tenerife, an island off the coast of Morocco. Her home island is the largest of all the islands in the Spanish Archipelago most commonly known to the rest of the world as The Canary Islands. After competing for many years prior to her collegiate career, she eventually ended up touring William & Mary and fell in love with the university.
“Ever since I committed and toured the school people have been so kind to me,” said Saric. “The community was so great and beautiful. I was so grateful.”
Saric has managed to successfully find time to double major in finance and psychology in addition to playing tennis at such a high level. She attributes much of her success to her team.
“It’s great having my team and being able to share all the hard work and success with them,” said Saric. “Having them here is like having a family here.”
Last season, Saric was named the CAA Player of the Year in addition to receiving All-CAA First Team honors in both singles and doubles. She ended on a hot streak last season after winning her final eight matches of the year and finished with an 11-3 overall record for the season.
Saric has already begun to pick up right where she left off last season. She’s recently enjoyed a strong start to her 2021-2022 season while playing at the Liberty Invitational. Saric recently picked up a 6-1,6-4 win over Tiffany Nguyen of Liberty.
Another big influence on Saric has been her head coach, Toni Bickford, who recently resigned from her position. Coach Bickford has had a major impact on the women’s tennis team.
“She came in here right after me. She’s really nice and she was good support,” said Saric. “She always had your back on and off the court. Especially off the court.”
Saric has recently been focusing on fitness, gym, and conditioning in preparation for her upcoming competition on Sept 24. against University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, N.C.
When asked what advice she has for young aspiring tennis players who happen to be thinking about playing tennis at the college level, Saric said, “Work as hard as you can. Have a fire in you. You need to have a passion for what you’re doing. Enjoy the game. Work hard. Give your best. I wish anyone can experience college athletics. I grew so much as a person. Enjoy the competition”