category: Alumni

Coaching the Federers: Meet the C-N alum who coached the family of a tennis legend

Tennis great Roger Federer, left, with 2002 C-N alumnus Marko Radovanovic.

A new biography on tennis great Roger Federer highlights the relationship the Swiss athlete developed with one of Carson-Newman’s own alumni tennis stars, Marko Radovanovic. In chapter 14 of “The Master: The Brilliant Career of Roger Federer” by Christopher Clarey, details are shared how the 2002 alumnus and one of tennis’ greatest competitors connected.

Radovanovic serves as tennis director for Peter Burwash International in Dubai, the world’s largest luxury tennis management company. The former Eagle, who hails from Serbia, explained that he first met Federer while the two played at the same club. Soon after, Radovanovic began coaching Federer’s twin daughters, an arrangement that continued for several years.

Though no stranger to coaching on the court, Radovanovic admits instructing the children of the famed tennis legend was a different ballgame…at least initially.

A signed calendar demonstrates a tennis legend’s appreciation for alumnus Marko Radovanovic.

“My first lesson I felt a lot of pressure, as Roger came to the court in the middle of the lesson to watch it,” recalled Radovanovic. “He was really cool and supportive of me – which helped a lot. Every other lesson, I felt better and more confident. The girls were enjoying it and we bonded really well,” he said.

But it was an act of kindness by the 20-time Grand Slam champion that left an impression on the C-N alum. “He left me a “thank you” note about me teaching his kids,” said Radovanovic. “That is a true gift for me.”

The note, signed on a calendar featuring Federer, now hangs at his mother’s house, forever commemorating a unique life opportunity.

Though he is enjoying a career that keeps him close to the game he loves, Radovanovic easily connects the dots from the present to his past at Mossy Creek.

“Coming to Carson-Newman is probably the best decision of my life, as I loved the school, students, my teammates and the values that school has,” said Radovanovic, adding “(Coach) Jean Love was a true all-around blessing.” He still has fond memories of his collegiate tennis success that included being All-Conference first team each year, two-time Conference MVP, and SAC Freshman of the Year.

“Carson Newman gave me the best values that I can have and also the best relationships with the people,” he said. “We really were like a family, and wherever I go, I am very C-N proud!”

Radovanovic with Federer

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