April, 2004 continued

A: "The first year I stayed the whole year. I stayed even in the winter. It was depressing, but then I went back in the summer and now I'm going back in a month until August."

Q: How will that differ from your life here (in the U.S.)?
A: "It's really different. I'm a very independent guy. I love to be surrounded by people, my friends. Here it's school, practice, demands from the court, professors. And you want to socialize and have fun. I've set my priorities. Every time I'm confused, I go to that checklist and see if it's really going that way.
    I know that I have made mistakes, but that's superficial. Without goals, without guidelines, it's very hard to go through life without a plan."

Q: How does the turmoil there (in Serbia) effect you?
A: "It's over. It's a sad, sad situation like everywhere in the world. There are bad people everywhere. I was sad because my country was represented that way. Like all of us are bad. Nothing is black and white. Nothing can be generalized because of a small amount of representatives who go to the extreme. That doesn't mean the majority go to the extreme. The civilians are the ones who suffer when the whole country is bombed for three months straight. It's hard.
    I was there during the whole time. Many people left the country to feel safe. I stayed there. I felt that my staying there would somehow be respect, appreciation because I believe in my national identity. That's something that truly matters the most. It hurt me, a lot. Even though I didn't lose anybody, thank God. It hurt, but it didn't crash me so I'm stronger from the experience. So altogether I'm better from this experience. When you see a difficult life, you are much better to deal with much greater situations. All that makes me more mature. When you think about it, when you go through war what can actually make you scared? What can actually make you think that it's wrong?
    There is no distraction if you're in a match. There's no distraction if you get a bad grade. What is a bad grade compared to that (war)? That whole experience, as I tell my parents, it's over, it's done. We all went through it. Some got really down, really depressed. Some learned to live with the situation. I think I'm in that second group of people. We have no influence in that. We just try to live our life as much as possible."

Q: Very well said. How do you like living on Long Island? In New York?
A: "It's hard to say. The United States is the country that offered me everything and I am really respectful and it's something I really appreciate. This school gave me a scholarship. Everything I can have, I have here. The coach is being a really wonderful guy, so there's nothing to complain about, but I've noticed that people, especially here, are too much materialistic. Into money. It bothers me a little that it's a scale, how much money you have. Although money is security and produces a feeling of being comfortable, I don't think it necessarily makes you happy.
    When I go to sleep I know I did the things I like: I had a good practice; I learned something in school; I went out with a nice girl. I'm happy."

Q: Have you gotten to experience anything in the area?
A: "I went to the US Open. An amazing experience. I went to Manhattan -- Fifth Avenue, Central Park, Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Planetarium."

Q: Was it as you imagined it would be?
A: "Manhattan is something unbelievable. Even though I saw it so many times on tv, when I actually first went there I could not believe it.
    I live in a pretty big city. A nice European city of two million people with a nice center, two rivers, beautiful parks, but compared to Manhattan it's like nothing. Some tiny fraction."

Q: What are your goals for your college tennis career?


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