The 'Doubles Dossier' takes you inside the game to get to know the stars of the WTA's Doubles Circuit. After a successful collegiate career at Arizona State, Desirae Krawczyk has built a strong doubles career on the WTA Tour. The 27-year-old leftie from California has captured four career titles - including titles on all three surfaces - and posted a career-best result in the Fall of 2020, where she made her first Slam final with Alexa Guarachi at Roland Garros.
WTA Insider: How did you come to pick up a racquet?
Krawczyk: Both my parents came to America - my dad is Polish, my mom is Filipino - and my dad picked up tennis when he was a massage therapist in Palm Springs. He came to America when he was 25. Golf and tennis were the predominant sports in the Coachella Valley. He self-taught himself and he played every single day in the mornings.
Once I was born he put a racquet in my hand and probably at the age of two I got my first racquet and I started playing. I was going with him to the courts and watching him play and be around the country club environment. Everyone knew me being around the tennis courts all the time.
WTA Insider: What did you enjoy about tennis?
Krawczyk: I made a lot of friends in tennis. I probably had more friends in tennis growing up than I did in school because it was who I hung out with on weekends and after school.
Growing up I played all those little tournaments, all those NJTL tournaments. We played every tournament on the weekends. I thought oh yay, I get to see my friends on the weekend at the tournament, get to see my friends afterward.
To get to see my friends and play a sport and play doubles, I was lucky to have a good social group growing up. That played into it. Just the competitiveness and camaraderie of it. Being competitive with your friends can bring out the best in you and it can bring out the worst in you (laughs). It depends.
WTA Insider: At what point did tennis become more than a fun thing to do and more of a serious endeavor?
Krawczyk: Growing up I went to regular middle school and high school, and then after my sophomore year a lot of people were saying I had the potential to go pro. Watching the college events, like Stanford and these big-time collegiate events in Palm Springs, it was really cool to watch and an inspiration.
So people said I had the potential to go pro but you should focus on this. My dad thought it would be a good idea to train at USTA for a year and see what that would be like.
So my junior year, my dad and I for nine months of the year were in Carson. We would drive up on Monday, stay in a hotel, then on Friday we would drive home and I could see my mom and my friends. So I did that and homeschool for a year.
It wasn't ideal but that's what my parents thought would be a good sacrifice. For my parents to sacrifice that and stay in a hotel, it was crazy. I didn't love it but I got to train and it let me see where I was at and where I wanted to be.
I think at the end of that, they asked me what my ambition was and I said I wanted to go to college and play college tennis. So they cut me because they wanted to focus on developing pro athletes at that level. For me, I don't think I was there yet. I don't think I was mentally ready to go pro and I didn't think my parents had the money to sacrifice for it. I didn't think it was what I wanted.
So after junior year I stopped with USTA and went back to Palm Springs and did my senior year and loved it. I got to see my friends. I'm such a social butterfly, I love being around being people. I'm very outgoing and I talk a lot, as you can tell (laughs).
WTA Insider: That year in Carson sounds like it was tough.
Krawczyk: It was challenging. I enjoyed being considered one of the top juniors and training with the best, which is what I did.
I will say I felt obligated to do it and I enjoyed it for a time, but then I came to start dreading it. It wasn't for me to practice for five hours a day. It wasn't how I wanted to use my days. It was a lot. I wouldn't say I burnt out, but it wasn't a decision that at 16-years-old I wanted to make.
But I think it shaped me and made me decide what I wanted to do and I don't regret going to college one bit. My dad may say something different because he's Eastern European, but it's just different. Obviously, you have to try it because you don't want a "what if" later on. I think everything happens for a reason and I think it led me to college and to where I am now.
WTA Insider: So how did you decide on playing at Arizona State University?
Krawczyk: I went and visited UCLA, ASU, and the University of Arizona. I had a lot of offers but I wanted to stay on the West Coast. I'm a desert girl. If I had to go anywhere near snow I would have hated it.
I was at a tournament and Peter Smith, who's a great coach, asked me where I was looking and I said 'I don't know, but there's one school, ASU, that's watching me all the time.' They were like 'We love Sheila (McInnerny). If we had a daughter we'd send her there.'
When I went to visit I felt very comfortable. There were a couple of girls who were at school there that I knew from juniors. Sheila felt like someone I could be comfortable around and be my mentor. We still have such a good relationship now. I still go back to ASU and she keeps in contact. It's a family-oriented unit. I loved my time there.
WTA Insider: What's your pitch for collegiate tennis?
Krawczyk: I think people should have college in the back of their minds because you just don't know what will happen. There are multiple players I could name who opted out of college and they're injured now and they don't have a back-up.
I definitely think college is the route to go. You don't even have to go for four years. Go for two to three years and see where you're at. The pro life is tough. It's not all glamourous. You have to grind.
I remember traveling with Giuliana Olmos when we started playing 15Ks. We worked all the way up to play WTAs and Grand Slams. We started from the bottom. We didn't get wildcards into events. We really worked our butts off to get there.
So I really think the college route is something athletes should consider. If it's not for you, then you can pursue your pro career. I developed a lot over college, seeing what worked for me, what didn't. You learn a lot.
WTA Insider: What did you study at ASU?
Krawczyk: I studied Family and Human Development. I wanted to be a teacher my first couple of years in college, but I had to do eight hours of student teaching and that wasn't what I wanted to do because I wanted to play tennis. I had to skip practice to do it. This was something around that because it works with kids and social work and public relations.
But I don't know if I will do anything with that, but I enjoyed it in college. After tennis, I would love to work with kids and maybe coach. But we'll see where I'm at.
WTA Insider: When do you feel like you finally "made it" on tour?
Krawczyk: I started on tour in 2017 at the 15Ks and I played my first WTA event in Hong Kong at the end of that year. We won about 5-6 ITF events and that helped us. 2018 is when I started playing more WTA events.
Before that, even when I played singles I enjoyed doubles more. I felt more comfortable there, being on a team, working with other people.
WTA Insider: What makes you a good doubles player?
Krawczyk: I do well with setting up my partner. I think my awareness on court has gotten better. You learn throughout all your matches. You learn playing different players, the top players, you see their game styles and you read different plays and have better awareness on the court. I think I have good instincts and that just comes with playing matches.
My serve has gotten a lot better and that's a staple of my game and taking over the net is what I'm best at.
WTA Insider: We're going to finish with some quick-hit questions. What's your favorite tournament?
Krawczyk: Indian Wells and Australian Open.
I was a ballkid at Indian Wells for 10 years. I showed Caroline Wozniacki a picture of when I ballkidded for her, when she was brace-faced, so young, walking off Center Court at Indian Wells. Federer, I have a picture with John Isner, Ryan Harrison, Djokovic, Nadal, Andy Murray, Roddick.
It was so much fun to be a ballkid. When I played my first tournament there I was so nervous. I couldn't believe I was playing my home tournament where I ballkidded at.
WTA Insider: What's the most used app on your phone?
Krawczyk: Instagram, but also my Nordstrom App. Actually, that's a lie. Nordstrom and the Lulu App. Everyone knows it.
WTA Insider: It's Friday night. Are you in or are you out?
Krawczyk: In. No, out. Why am I second-guessing myself?
WTA Insider: Watch or Read?
Krawczyk: Watch the same movies over and over again. How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days, The Proposal, Just Go With It, just those chick flicks. So good. And I could rewatch The Greatest Showman over and over and over again. So good.
WTA Insider: Favorite cuisine?
Krawczyk: Italian. I love lasagna.
WTA Insider: We're in Australia. If you could go to a restaurant right now for a nice group dinner, who would you invite?
Krawcyzk: Obviously my boyfriend and my doubles partner, Giuliana Olmos, Kaitlyn Christian, Ellen Perez, Storm Sanders.