Hard Work Paying Off For Oregon's Smatova
By Allison Siebenmann
Pavlina Smatova grew up around tennis, so it is no surprise that she is the University of Oregon's #1 player.
Smatova's father, a successful stringer who travels to Wimbledon yearly to be the stringer for Serena and Venus Williams, was a definite influence in her choice of sport.
"My grandfather and my father used to play tennis when they got done with hockey," says Smatova. "It was very beneficial for me that I had the home sport support, including stringing my racquets."
After playing tennis through her childhood and training at the Luis Bruguera Tennis Academy in Barcelona, Spain, Smatova was recruited by Oregon women's tennis head coach Paul Reber, who impressed her with all that the University of Oregon athletics department has to offer.
"Paul (Reber) recruited me over the summer of 2007. He went to Europe and we made a personal contact. He impressed me with the school, with the program, with all of the things that are connected to tennis here at the U of O. I was just like, 'Wow, love it!'," Smatova says.
The picture that Reber painted of the University of Oregon did not disappoint Smatova. She says she loves everything about the university, and believes that she has made the best choice in deciding to come play tennis for the Ducks.
"I am really happy here and I wouldn't make another choice. I totally respect my coaches, my teammates, and the [tennis] program has been wonderful," Smatova says.
Although she was not allowed to compete during the 2007-2008 season because of NCAA eligibility age restriction, the following seasons were nothing short of impressive.
Smatova posted a team-high 10 singles wins in dual competition in the 2008-2009 season. In the following season, she went 17-17 in singles, winning four of her first five singles decisions. She also went 15-15 in doubles play, claiming four wins in her first five doubles matches.
As her senior year at the University of Oregon continues, she hopes to post her best statistics of her tennis career. She spent this entire past summer training and practicing for the upcoming season.
"I sacrificed last summer because I did not have any vacation and wasn't able to hang out too much because I was working out a lot," she said.
Reber agrees, and says that her hard work is paying off. "She really sacrificed a lot this summer in order to have a good senior year and so far she is seeing the benefits," he says.
Smatova is unsure of what her future holds. This summer she plans on returning home to the Czech Republic to look for a job. As an international studies major with an emphasis on international tourism, she hopes to pursue a career within the realm of international business.
She hopes her ability to speak Czech, Spanish, and English will benefit her. "I would love to use my knowledge of the different languages I know somehow. English is my second language and Spanish is my third. I would love to do some kind of international business."
Although she will be moving on from the competitive tennis world after this season, she hopes to stay involved in the sport after graduation. "I would love to still be involved in athletics somehow," she says. "As a part time job I would love to do tennis coaching, but I do want to have a full time job."