Olga Berdynskykh, formerly a tennis coach in Ukraine, didn’t take long to line up tennis work when she moved to Winnipeg in September of 2009. The day after arriving in the city Berdynskykh started her search for a coaching position and was welcomed by Winnipeg Winter Club head pro Peter Otto.
“Peter took me right away,” said Berdynskykh, who coached city tennis champions in Ukraine.
Berdynskykh is also a coach at Kildonan Tennis Club, having started there in 2013 (she coached at Tuxedo Tennis Club in 2011 and ’12). She’s also an assistant to the tournament director at Tennis Manitoba tournaments.
Berdynskykh’s first trip to Canada came in 1994 when her Ukraine national women’s softball team competed at the world championships in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
“I fell in love with Canada,” Berdynskykh said of her stay in St. John’s.
Berdynskykh represented Ukraine in a total of three world softball championships and two European championships.
“I finished playing (competitive) tennis when I was 17 or 18,” said Berdynskykh. “I needed to do some activity to go to tournaments and softball was new in Ukraine, so we were pioneers.”
In Berdynskykh’s university group were two people from Cuba, where baseball and softball are popular sports.
“They were teaching us and brought some equipment for us,” Berdynskykh said.
Berdynskykh’s dad introduced her to tennis at age six.
“I tried different kinds of sports before but didn’t like anything,” said Berdynskykh. “When he brought a racquet I said, ‘that’s what I want to do.’”
In university Berdynskykh studied biomechanics, biochemistry, anatomy, and theory of sport. She was a tennis coach for 10 years in Ukraine after university.
“I usually rented gyms at colleges, universities and schools,” Berdynskykh said. “We had a couple of good indoor courts so I rented there once a week but other times I was teaching in the gyms. But outdoor courts are really good in Ukraine – clay and a lot of them.”
As a Winnipegger, Berdynskykh has found plenty of activities off the tennis court: camping, fishing, boxing, and skating on the river. She also tried curling this year with her family.
“I love Winnipeg,” said Berdynskykh. “It’s the city I want to live in.”