Jan. 4, 2018
FORT WORTH - After four years of calling Fort Worth home and building a family within the Cowtown community, TCU women's tennis players graduate and go out to further their careers. This week, we catch up with 2015 graduate Simona Parajova to see where she has been since leaving TCU.
GoFrogs.com: It has been almost two and a half years since you graduated. What have you been doing?
Simona Parajova: "After my graduation in August 2015, I stayed around TCU and coached tennis in Southlake, as well as practiced with the TCU girls for a year. In the summer of 2016, I played couple tennis tournaments and European league matches in Germany and France. It was very hard for me to stop with tennis after having a great junior and senior seasons. Tennis has a big role in my life and it was hard to stop with it. In September 2017, I started a master's degree in England where I got full athletic scholarship for tennis."
GF: What has been the best part of those two and a half years?
SP: "It is hard to pick the best part of the past two and a half years because I really enjoyed it all. I had a great year staying around TCU after my graduation as well as studying for my master's degree in England. When I decided to do my master's degree in England, I set up goals to win individual BUCS championship as well as compete in Universiade. I am so happy that I completed both of the goals. Recently, I played in summer Universiade and it was such an amazing event. I can't even describe with words how wonderful it was to play in this event and I would encourage every athlete to try to qualify for this amazing event. I think this is one of the best parts of those two and a half years."
GF: You won the BUCS championship in England. Tell us about that experience and how it is similar and different to NCAA?
SP: "I played for Durham University, which is one of the best athletic university in England. They put a lot of emphasis on sports and it is an excellent program and I have been lucky to compete for this university. This year was a special year for tennis program at Durham because we were fortunate enough to win BUCS team championship and I also won the individual championship. England is a lot smaller than the United States and so BUCS has a lot less players than NCAA. Other than that, it is very similar. At the end of the season, the best 32 players qualify to play in BUCS and it is a four-day event. Coming into the tournament, I was confident I could do well, but I had a big opponent in the draw. Prior to this final tournament, I lost to one opponent three times and I knew I would have to bring my best game to win it all. I played the No. 1 ranked BUCS player Maia Lumsden in the final. It was a tough match and I won 7-6 in the third set. I was extremely happy to reach my pre-season goal and finally beat an opponent I struggled against all season. My dad was there watching this final which made it even more special to win it. I can't even describe the happiness of winning this tournament and not only for me but for Durham as well.
GF: You recently won the silver medal at World University Games. Tell us a little about that experience?
SP: "I was so excited to play in this World University Games. When I went back to school to do my master's degree, I said I was going back to school and I want to play in this games. I wish I would have learned earlier about this game and maybe play in it even earlier. I won the silver medal in mixed doubles, but I was little unlucky and I got food poisoning the day before my singles match, so I couldn't really play which I was so sad about. But thankfully my doubles partner, Ivan Kosec, and I improved our moods by getting so far in mixed doubles. We didn't have very high expectations since we had never played together, but we clicked very quickly on the court and really enjoyed every match. We had some very tough opponents such as strong Russian team and in the semifinals, we beat American team from UCLA. Both of these matches we won in super tiebreak and the emotions going through your body during those matches are enormous, and this is why athletes train so hard to be in those positions and experiencing those amazing feeling. What is even better is you are on court with someone to share the same emotions with."
GF: What are your plans this year?
SP: "The current plan is that I am going to watch Laver Cup in Prague and I am really looking forward to it. Then I have to go back to studying and finish my master's degree, and that should be completed in January 2018."
GF: What are three of your favorite memories at TCU?
SP: "I have so many amazing memories from TCU. I am so grateful to have been part of this amazing program and be a Horned Frog for a life. The best memories are the team memories. Nothing is better than accomplishing a common goal with your teammates. I think one of the best is when we advanced at the ITA National Indoor Team Championship and we got to the quarterfinals by beating Duke in the first round. Also, my last match on purple court against Texas Tech was very emotional and one of my favorite memories. I remember thinking in my head `this is my last match for TCU and I don't want to end it' and then tears coming to my eyes, but I quickly told myself to concentrate on my match and I was going to win it. I remember I did very well and defeated Gabriela Talaba who has very high NCAA ranking right now. The final memory favorite memory from TCU is just training with my girls, coming to practice together and working hard together.
GF: What would you say to encourage a new international freshman at TCU to do in their first year?
SP:"I would really encourage you not to don't give up. For international freshmen, the transition from home and junior tennis might be hard sometimes, but trust the process and you will see everything will get easier as the time goes. Everyone's transition is different, but don't give up and try your hardest and you will see it will pay off."