STUDENT-Athlete of the Week: Jaak Poldma

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Each week, we shift the emphasis to the left side of the hyphen and focus on an exemplary USC scholar athlete.

poldma ncaa da2.JPGName: Jaak Poldma

Sport: Men's Tennis

Class: Senior

Double Major: Political Science and Communications

GPA: 3.65

Jordan Moore (JM): You are from Tallinn, Estonia.  What's it like?

Jaak Poldma (JP): Tallinn is a beautiful, old, mid-sized European city, about 400,000 people. It's cold, dark and bleak in the winter, and nice and warm in the summer. The city itself is over Tallinn_Estonia.jpg1,000 years old and so a pretty cool mixture of history from the Middle Ages, Soviet times and modern architecture.

JM: How much of a culture shock is it when you go back and forth from Los Angeles?

JP: Estonia is very westernized. We are forced to watch the same crappy Hollywood sequels in Tallinn as we are at the Grove, and there isn't anything shocking in music, fashion or politics either. The biggest visible difference in the street scene is a total lack of diversity in the Estonian population as compared to all the different ethnicities and cultures that intersect in LA and at USC.

JM: How many tennis courts were available to you growing up?

JP: A lot. There was no shortage of funding for sports during the Soviet times, so all the necessary courts were there ready for me when I was born. Also, my mother is a tennis coach and so was her father, so I spent all my childhood hanging out at multiple tennis facilities.

JM: Growing up, when was the first time you heard about USC?

JP: I heard about it when I was playing my first Junior U.S. Open and started looking into the possibility of going to school in the U.S..

Estonia_map.jpgJM: How many of your teammates could find Estonia on a map?

JP: If the countries have a name on them, then 10.  If they don't...3.

JM: You arrived at USC wanting to be a professional tennis player.  How have your aspirations changed?

JP: I struggled with injuries and learned how much I enjoyed school in my first couple of years here, so I put the professional plans aside for a while and focused all of my effort on classes. However, recently I have regained a motivation to play tennis, but I have been able to maintain a good level in academics. So as of now my aspirations are not clear; I am definitely determined to pursue grad school at some point, but have not said my last goodbye to tennis either.

poldma ncaa cheer.JPGJM: You are hopefully headed to law school.  Are you exceptionally skilled at arguing with chair umpires?

JP: Skills, exceptional. However, in all honesty, I often lose my calculating cool on the court, so the arguments might not be as logically strong and reasoned as they could be.

JM: I heard you revert to your native language to yell on the court.  What's the best Estonian curse word?

JP: Ahhaaa, so much is true. The question I dreaded the most. Unfortunately, with the invention of Google Translator, I will not be able to share any of the secrets of my occupation. And who said anything about me using curse words on the court?? :)

JM: What is the feeling around the team going for a third straight national championship?

JP: The team is excited and confident. We have a lot new guys, who have no championship rings, so for them it's not about re-, or three-peating, but getting their first. But as a whole, we are ready after a good fall season and surely hungry for more.

JM: I asked you for your hobbies and you said "playing guitar and watching depressing Swedish movies."  Is that the Jaak Poldma date package?  A depressing foreign flick and some tunes...

JP: It kind of is...

JM: You got a 4.0 last semester.  I don't really have a question.  I'm just impressed.

JP: Actually in the last two semesters.

JM: Now you are just bragging...

Poldma and the #2 Trojans host Florida State Thursday afternoon.  Come on out!

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I love these interviews with the student-athletes! USC is lucky to have such great representation for athletics, and great students in general. I love the video interviews as well.

Thanks for these!

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