By: Jordan Cope, Senior Editor
Junior tennis star Barbora Vasilkova steps onto the court, takes her position behind the baseline and awaits the serve from her opponent Anastasia Palaska. Vasilkova defeated Palaska in the third set on the way to Towson’s first program victory over the College of Charleston.
Vasilkova’s win came with physical discomfort, however. She had been playing the match with a torn groin, an injury that she sustained in the weight room earlier in the year and had to battle through the entire spring campaign.
“In tennis you’re always playing through injuries,” Vasilkova said. “This one was just disappointing in particular because this was something that was out of my control.”
Vasilkova’s injury was just one piece of an adversity riddled junior year. The day before the start of the team’s fall season, she learned that head coach Doug Neagle was leaving to take over Nova Southeastern’s tennis program in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The news came as a surprise to Vasilkova. Neagle had recruited her to come to Towson where she began her collegiate tennis career in 2014. In her rookie campaign under the direction of Neagle, Vasilkova led the team with 15 doubles wins and added 16 singles wins.
Vasilkova continued to grow under the leadership of Neagle. In her second season with Towson, she earned a team-best 19 doubles victories and tied for the second-most singles victories with 16, proving the sophomore slump theory to be a myth.
“It wasn’t easy at first, the new coach worked another job and had a different set of drills and training techniques for us,” Vasilkova said. “But the team rallied around it.”
The Bratislava, Slovakia native embraced the challenge head on and took new marching orders from interim head coach Jamie Peterson. She finished her junior year with 14 singles wins, just one of six Tigers’ to do so. Vasilkova also secured eight doubles wins and was named to the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) All-Academic Team.
Vasilkova is happy to have overcome a roller coaster ride this season, but wants to accomplish more in her senior year with Towson. Before all is said and done, she wants to win a CAA Championship and be named to the All-CAA Team.
As for her future, Vasilkova is still uncertain about what she wants to do. She has considered working in the United States after college, but is aware of the emotional toll that her coming and going has left on her family.
“It has been especially tough on my mom,” Vasilkova said. “Ask me this time next year what I’m planning on doing.”