Biochemistry serves strong options for tennis player


By Mikaela Wieland

Early every morning, before the sun ever comes up, Andjela Djokovic’s alarm clock blares.

“How did that happen so fast?” she often wonders. “It seems like I just went to bed.”

And while the senior biochemistry major from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, shakes off sleep, she knows that the long workout and even longer school day to come are worth it. Djokovic is a student-athlete who competes for the Purdue women’s tennis team on a scholarship.

Andjela Djokovic

Photo provided by Charles Jischke
Andjela Djokovic is a tennis player and biochemistry major. She says that she plays for a great tennis team while getting amazing academic training.

“The only way I have enough time to do everything is to work out at 6 a.m.,” Djokovic said. “It’s really difficult, I’m always tired, and there’s no rhythm in my life.”

Djokovic approaches her dedication to tennis in much of the same way that she approaches her homework, classes, and labs.

“The challenge is fun,” she said. While tennis brought her to Purdue, Djokovic said the academics kept her here.

“When choosing a college, I wanted a school where I could play on a good tennis team but also get amazing academic training,” Djokovic said.

Purdue checked all the boxes and even gave her a full-ride scholarship to play tennis. Djokovic said she is grateful for all the places the tennis team has taken her and excited that she’s been able to combine her love for travel with her love for tennis. She’s traveled all over the United States to play in different tennis tournaments, which is one advantage Djokovic sees in being both an international student and an athlete. But while she’s had the opportunity to visit places in the United States, it isn’t always as a tourist.

“I’ve gotten to see a lot of the USA, but mostly tennis courts and hotels.” Djokovic joked.

Even so, Djokovic said she enjoyed visiting iconic places like Las Vegas and Florida while getting to play the sport that she loves. But the tennis and traveling is just the beginning of Djokovic’s crazy, daily schedule and unique Purdue journey.

Djokovic’s normal day includes tennis practice, gym time, class, biochemistry labs, with days so full that she doesn’t usually get home from campus to start homework or study until after 7:30 p.m.

For most people, this would be too much stress and too full of a schedule, but Djokovic said the craziness is worth it.

“There’s nothing I would change,” she said.

She credits the biochemistry faculty for helping her succeed as a student-athlete.

“The faculty in biochemistry are amazing,” Djokovic said. “Most of the professors know me and ask me how my tennis is going.”

Djokovic knows that her time at Purdue and her journey with the tennis team will not last forever and is deciding her next step. Djokovic chose biochemistry because of the variety of careers she can pursue. After Purdue, she plans to head back to Australia or New Zealand to continue her studies.

“I really, really like biochemistry,” she said. “It’s like knowing a secret code. When doctors give out pills, they know what is literally going to happen as it breaks down in the body. . . . It’s the behind-the-scenes of everything that’s going on in real life.”

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