Don’t call them Venus or Serena.
But, just like the Williams sisters, these two siblings have one thing one their minds – tennis.
Eka Jvania, 24, and her brother Zurab Zhvania, 20, from the Republic of Georgia, have been playing tennis for as long as they can remember.
“I believe, I have been playing tennis for at least 18 years,” said Jvania, a graduate business administration student. “My parents enjoyed the sport, so one day they just handed me a racket and ball and that’s how it all started for us,” said Jvania.
The brother-sister duo moved to the United States from their country, which is in western Europe, for Eka to play tennis at Idaho State University in 2001, and Zurab to play at FAMU in 2002. Their surnames might not indicate a kinship because of a spelling error when Eka came to the United States agents with the Immigration and Naturalization Service spelled her name phonetically.
The siblings have said Life in the U.S. is different from the republic they came from.
“It was strange at first, but we had to get used to it,” Eka said. “It’s definitely a different culture, but I like it.”
“I agree, it was pretty hard living in the United States. I’m sure it would have been much harder if my sister wasn’t here with me,” said Zurab, a junior business administration student.
The two have been playing tennis at FAMU for the past two years. Eka was the one who actually found FAMU for her brother. She said she felt it would be a good school for him to attend for tennis and business. The duo later met back up at FAMU, when they both realized how difficult it was to be without the other.
“I would call him or he would call me and I would say, ‘I’m lonely,’ and he would say, ‘I’m lonely too,’ and we decided that it would be best if we were at the same school,” Eka said. “So I made the move down here to be with my baby brother. Besides, it was way too cold in Idaho for me.”
“I have always been close to my sister,” Zurab said. “We have always lived together and have always gone to the same school. It would have been really difficult for me being so far from home and living alone.”
The two have been playing hard as well as dominating on the tennis courts. In doubles, Zurab and his partner Pfungwa Mahefeu won three straight matches earlier this month against Prairie View A&M, Southeastern Louisiana State University and University of New Orleans.
Zurab, who usually plays between No.2 and No.5 singles, plays No. 1 in doubles with Mahefeu.
“To us, he is (one of) the most talented players we have out there. We always emphasize that he play smarter though, and having and executing a game plan,” said Assistant Men’s Tennis Coach Noel Wadawu.
Eka is the No. 1 singles player of the Lady Rattlers team. Her teammates have described her as a very intense player that is always focused.
“She is always motivated to do better, which I think motivates us as a team in the end,” said teammate Samaria Bailey.
Eka will receive her master’s degree in the summer.
“Maybe I will get a job here and then go back home,” she said.
Zurab’s plans for the future are more tennis oriented.
“After I graduate, I’m going to try and go professional,” Zurab said. “I may try a couple of tournaments for at least a year. If that doesn’t work out, then I will probably just go home.”
Venus and Serena they are not, but it will always be love-love for this family of champions.
Contact Stephanie Lambert at firstname.lastname@example.org.