AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas Longhorns women’s tennis coach Howard Joffe doesn’t know how Sabina Zeynalova does it.

An excellent student and half of a Longhorns doubles team that qualified for the NCAA tournament this season, the sophomore has more than enough on her plate being a Division I student-athlete.

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On top of those demands and everything else, Zeynalova is worried sick about her parents in her native Ukraine, who are “under attack right now,” while the war with Russia ravages her home country.

While it’s something that makes tennis seem so insignificant, like something that’s literally just a game, Zeynalova said the fighting spirit of the Ukrainian people has inspired her to keep doing what she loves.

“Ukrainians have a long history of fighting for their freedom and their values, and I think that’s one of the things that keeps me going and keeps me motivated,” she said. “There’s always something more to fight for than just a tennis match.”

Joffe is baffled and blown away at Zeynalova’s attitude through the ordeal.

“I’m 51 years old, and when I have any amount of distress, it’s very hard for me to stay on point,” Joffe said. “Job, family … and this hints at just how resourced Sabina is as a human being,” he said. “She has this big ball of distress, and she wakes up to it every day. It’s just the veracity, you know, when attacks are stronger, there’s worse news. The idea she’s able to have that distress and put it in a healthy container, so to speak, put it to the side and show up as a tennis champion and great student. It’s really remarkable.”

Before Zeynalova and her doubles partner Charlottle Chavatipon embark on their individual tournament May 22-27, Zeynalova will be a big factor in the Longhorns’ quest to three-peat as team national champions. In singles play, Zeynalova compiled a 16-6 record overall, and in doubles with Chavatipon, the duo went 12-5 this year. As a singles player her freshman year on the Longhorns national title team, Zeynalova said she’s had to adjust a little to playing doubles but is comfortable playing both.

“I’ve learned how to be decent at both,” she said. “It’s just understanding that your partner has your back, no matter what’s going on. You can always rely on that person if something doesn’t go well, you have each other’s backs.”

Texas, seeded No. 8 in the tournament, takes on Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the first round at 2 p.m. Friday at the Texas Tennis Center. With a 21-4 overall record, Joffe said with about half the team returning from last year’s title run. With each passing year, however, the slate is wiped clean and only the experience of the returning players is carried over.

“It’s a different puzzle with different characters and a different set of wins and losses,” Joffe said. “I think it’s just more about looking at how the players are able to bring their best energy and show up the way they feel like they need to for the games.”

Zeynalova said the team has continually come together throughout the season, and even when the team has struggled, she’s confident the Longhorns can make a legitimate run at a third consecutive team title. The last school to do it was Stanford from 2004-06.

“We were figuring out how to work with each other,” she said. “It just keeps getting better, and I’m excited to see how it turns out for us.”