Feature on Jakub Praibis
Indiana senior men's tennis player Jakub Praibis knew he wanted to play tennis from a very young age. "The first time that I started to play tennis I was four years old," Praibis said. "I saw my father and my older brother hitting the ball and I liked how it looked."
The Litomerice, Czech Republic, product played in his first tournament when he was nine years old and has steadily improved ever since. "I kept playing because I really like the sport. That was the main drive to play. I got a lot of support from my family to keep playing."
Praibis was recruited to play tennis at Indiana University by former assistant coach Ondrej Holik, a Czech Republic native. "Andrew saw Jakub play in a tournament back in the Czech Republic," Head Coach Ken Hydinger said. "He said `Jakub was a pretty good player, but he is not going to come in a play number one for you'. He turned out to be much better than we had anticipated."
Hydinger was right about that. "When I first saw Jakub play, I was always reminded of what Red Auerbach said of Bill Russell when they drafted him `they weren't sure what they got until he practiced'," Hydinger said. "Jakub showed great concentration, good fighting spirit and wonderful athletic ability."
The first time that Praibis came to the United States was to attend Indiana. "It was tough to leave home. It was quite a change to be away from my family and home," Praibis said, "I received a lot of support here at IU, so that made the change easier."
Praibis, whose weapons are his serve and forehand, played a majority of his freshman year at the No. 2 and 3 singles position and compiled a record of 15-5.
He played at the No. 1 singles slot his sophomore year and has been at the top spot ever since. He was 15-10 in his second year and registered a mark of 16-7 last year. During his junior campaign, he earned All-Big Ten honors and was selected to play in the main singles draw of the 2004 NCAA Championships.
While Praibis has beaten many of the top collegiate tennis players in the country, a match last summer ranks among his most memorable. "This summer I played a strong German guy back home and I feel that I had one of the best matches of my life. I won 6-2, 6-1," said Praibis. "My parents were there and they don't usually get to see me play. That is what made the match so special, because I only get home about once a year, so it was very emotional. "
Praibis has excelled off the court as well, twice being named to the Academic All-Big Ten team. "Jakub has always been a man of great integrity. He has always been very honest with himself and with others. In dealing with his successes and shortcomings, he has always been very forthright in both. He is very mature that way," Hydinger said. "As a tennis player his game has always been very good. He has gotten stronger and better at it."
Praibis would like to continue to improve and leave Indiana on a high note. "I want to play as hard as I can in all of the matches this spring and be prepared mentally and physically to compete. For the team, I want us to win as many matches as we can."
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