Jo Karaitiana – Melbourne, Australia
Vida Venue – Box Hill Seconday
Role – Director of Tennis
1. When did you first pick up a tennis racket?
When I was probably around 7 years old. My older brother began playing tennis so anything he did I had to do as well (athletics, AFL, cricket, gymnastics).
2. Who influenced you to begin playing?
My brother began getting lessons so I wanted to join in as well. My dad always said that he had more talent than me (can you believe it :P) but I worked harder and was a lot more competitive. I was soo small and weak to hit as a single hander at that age I naturally started using 2 hands on both groundstrokes.
For some reason it was more comfortable for me to play my double hander with my right hand up the top (as a left hander) which made things very interesting/complicated for me as I progressed to playing at a national and international level.
3. What player did you idolised growing up? Did they influence the way you play?
I idolized Monica Seles growing up as she was one of the only double-handed female professional tennis players at the time. She also personified similar personality traits to me as she was also fiesty, aggressive, stubborn and had a great work ethic with a never give up attitude. This was never more apparent then when she came back to the game after being stabbed in the back in a match against Steffi Graf.
4. What person/coach made you love tennis?
There was no one person or coach that made me love tennis. I loved competing (especially when I was winning) and loved playing the game. When I wasn’t at school I was at my local clubs Doutta Galla and Essendon hitting, having group lessons or playing competitions. I would play junior pennant, senior pennant, mixed adult night comp, ladies night comp and tournaments whenever possible.
I often had to walk and catch public transport myself (sometimes taking me hours to get to places) almost every day to do what I loved- which was to play tennis. I think tennis taught me at an early age the values that hold true to me today which are that nothing comes easy and that you have to work hard, be disciplined and sacrifice to get where you want to in this life.
Also, tennis has taught me a resilience that is unbreakable- I know no matter how many times I fail or lose or am struggling that if I keep persisting and working on myself that I will eventually break through and come out on the other side a better person/coach because of it.
5. When did Vida come into your life?
I did a few squads with Vida as a teenager and was close friends with Ashleigh Richardson and Marija Mirkovic who were both coached and mentored by Vince and Kane when Vida was created many years ago. Vida had a fantastic number of players at national and international level and focused on the high performance side of coaching initially.
6. What opportunities has tennis/Vida provided for you?
Tennis has given me purpose in my life. I knew from a very young age that tennis was my passion and that long after I had hung the racquets up as a player that I would be coaching or involved in some capacity for the rest of my life.
Tennis is a sport that has given me so much. I competed on the junior ITF world circuit as a player and was selected by TA to travel and compete in ITF’s in Fiji and I got to travel across different parts of Australia and compete in the Junior Australian Open.
I received a full scholarship to the Oklahoma State University where I got to travel across America competing and experience college life at such a big (40,000 plus students) sport crazy college.
I transfered to The University of Tulsa where our team won back to back Conference USA titles and I graduated with an undergraduate degree in Exercise and Sport Science.
I then travelled the world on the professional circuit across and Europe, America, Asia and Australia. I also played club tennis in Germany which was another fantastic experience.
The friendships I have developed with people all over the world and the friendships I continue to develop is the most rewarding experience that tennis continues to provide me.
7. How has your time at Vida influenced you as a person?
Kane and Vince as the founders and leaders at Vida have impacted all employees at Vida. They have created a company that you are proud to work for and represent. Their values and level of passion, care, commitment and dedication to this company is evident day in day out. I think most people who work at Vida will describe it as a family, as that’s how they treat everyone and how Kane and Vince care for and try to help develop each person.
8. Why do you love coaching tennis?
It is a sport that has given me so much in my life that I try to help give back. Coaching gives me an opportunity to not only help players become better tennis players but better people. As coaches we have the ability to positively impact people’s lives and hopefully help them to fall in love with tennis and be lifelong players.
9. Describe Vida in one word?
A little more about Jo
Jo started her role with Vida as Director of Coaching at the Box Hill Senior Secondary College Tennis Academy in January 2019. Jo has had a close relationship with Vida for more than a decade through her playing days and we are excited for her to now join the team as a coach, and player mentor.
Prior to Vida, Jo is working with Tennis Australia in player development in the Northern Territory and is taking the NT teams event during the December Showdown at Melbourne Park. Her role with Tennis NT has seen her take on a number of roles over the past two years including being a Super 10’s coach, Head Coach at Sanderson Tennis Club, Australian Teams Championships coach, player development coach, and run private and squad lessons.
Jo has a strong playing background having achieved a world WTA ranking in both singles and doubles after graduating from the University of Tula (USA). Jo also has a strong background in Sports Science (Bachelor of Science: Exercise and Sports Science), is a Tennis Australia Club Professional accredited coach, and had a variety of other experience in the past which will help her to guide a holistic tennis program.