Vivian Ovrootsky reconnects with love for tennis at Maccabiah games

Lindsey Plotkin, Women’s tennis reporter

After helping Texas women’s tennis capture its fourth team national championship in 2022, sophomore Vivian Ovrootsky didn’t take much time off to rest over the summer.

In July, Ovrootsky traveled to Haifa, Israel to compete in the 2022 World Maccabiah Games, a tournament that is often dubbed the “Jewish Olympics” by athletes and spectators. At the games, Ovrootsky competed in the singles and doubles tournaments, placing second in singles and first in doubles with partner Alexis Blokhina, a Stanford commit. 

In the singles competition, both Blokhina and Ovrootsky sailed through their competition in the U18 division before meeting each other in the final. Ovrootsky fell to Blokina 6-2, 6-4 to earn the silver medal. 

After the singles competition, both turned their attention to doubles, this time as partners.

“I’ve known Alexis probably since we were both like seven years old,” Ovrootsky said. “So getting to be on the same side of the court after so many years of knowing each other was really good. We paired up and played pretty well.”

Blokhina and Ovrootsky met at a tennis academy in California where they both started their careers. 

“She’s a really great tennis player, a really great athlete and a really great person overall,” Ovrootsky told Maccabi Media during the games. 

Ovrootsky first found out about the games from head coach Howard Joffe, who took the gold medal at the games in 1989. 

“(Joffe) said, ‘Hey, I would really like you to go and play this, I think it’d be a great experience for you,’” Ovrootsky said. “The coach of the Maccabi Games team was very eager to get me on the team.”

Ira Miller, head coach of the U18 tennis team, had nothing but praise for Ovrootsky going into the tournament. 

“Her technique is very strong, and she’s also very savvy about playing and knowing when to move forward,” Miller told Maccabi Media. “(Ovrootsky and Blokhina) would be strong players on even the open team, so I’m very fortunate that they wanted to compete in (the U18 tournament).”

Although Ovrootsky still enjoys the high of helping the Longhorns to a national championship, succeeding at the Maccabiah games made the young athlete proud nonetheless. 

“I don’t think anything is going to feel as good as winning the national championship, but it felt really good,” Ovrootsky said. “Being able to represent my country and winning a gold medal for the United States was great, … but (it) does not compare to a national championship.” 

While in Israel and in between the singles and doubles tournaments, the team did some sightseeing. Ovrootsky celebrated her birthday on July 15, did a little prep work for the fall season and found her love for the sport again after a whirlwind spring semester.

“(The games helped) me find a way to fall in love with tennis again,” Ovrootsky said. “I had a little bit of a shaky semester, but being there, having some form of tennis this summer, I think it just really helped me realize this is why I enjoy being on the court. I do feel a lot happier and a lot more confident in myself and my tennis for this semester and our coming season.”