Mozia earns spot on court

The senior walked on to the Gophers but has started the year 8-1 in doubles.

Minnesota senior Jessika Mozia poses in the Baseline Tennis Center on Friday afternoon.

Joe Sulik

Minnesota senior Jessika Mozia poses in the Baseline Tennis Center on Friday afternoon.

Jack White

Pius Mozia used to watch Minnesota women’s tennis games after his own playing career was over.
 
Now his daughter, senior Jessika Mozia, has turned into one of the most experienced players on the team.
 
Jessika Mozia is tied for 25th in all-time singles victories at Minnesota with 66 and has started her season off 8-1 in doubles.
 
“I think mainly her strength was singles early in her career, but she’s gotten more confident in doubles,” head coach Chuck Merzbacher said. “I think now she can help us in both and is dominant in both.”
 
Pius Mozia played tennis at the University of Tennessee and later on the pro circuit. He raised a tennis family, as Jessika Mozia’s brother Matthew also played tennis in college for Pomona-Pitzer and on the pro circuit.
 
The family moved to Colorado from Minnesota when Jessika was born, but Pius Mozia said he didn’t forget his time watching Gophers tennis. 
 
“I am very familiar with Minnesota tennis,” Pius Mozia said. “I’ve known the head coach, Chuck [Merzbacher], a long time. I’ve seen him play. … I know Gopher tennis and have been a big fan of Gopher tennis for a long, long time.”
 
Jessika Mozia was a two-time tennis state champion in Colorado in high school and compiled a record of 86-5. 
 
Mozia said she had offers from schools like the University of California-Santa Clara, Gonzaga University and the University of Colorado-Boulder, but she did not receive an offer from Minnesota. 
 
Mozia decided to walk on to the Gophers anyway and tried to earn playing time her freshman year.
 
Mozia eventually led the Gophers in singles wins with a 22-18 overall record her freshman year after the starting the season without a scholarship.
 
Later on in Mozia’s freshman year, the Gophers lost to Purdue University 6-1, and she struggled in her singles match.
 
Mozia said she was told to meet with Merzbacher after the game. 
 
“I had just lost my match, pretty badly actually, and then [Merzbacher] called me into his office,” Mozia said. “I thought he was probably going to talk to me about [not losing]
confidence in [my] game play or talk about what happened over the weekend, but that’s actually when he offered [a scholarship]. I was taken by surprise, a pleasant surprise.”
 
Mozia has gone on since then to earn a 66-54 career record in singles and 60-44 career record in doubles. 
 
“The growth for her has been amazing, and I think she will have a great senior year,” Mozia’s roommate and teammate Paula Rincon-Otero said.
 
Mozia’s fast start in doubles this season has also moved her up the program’s all-time leaderboard. She is only two victories away from tying for the 23rd-most in Minnesota history.
 
“She’s completed her game,” Merzbacher said. “She’s worked real hard on fixing anything she needed to fix and just build on other things in her game. Just getting stronger [and] more aggressive.”