Tereza Simonova was destined to star on the tennis court.
“I started playing when I was about four and always loved it, even at a young age,” said the 15-year-old. “It was natural to get into the sport with my dad and I just love the competition. It’s fun to compete and to see your hard work pay off.”
Her father, Rene Simon, has been involved in the sport for years and is the head pro at the Red Deer Tennis Club.
Simonova was born in Slovakia and moved to Calgary with her parents when she was three. She played at the Calgary Tennis Academy until her father took over as head pro in Red Deer.
Rene has been Tereza’s only coach, something she feels comfortable with.
“It can be tough, but I also think it helps in that he knows me and knows how hard he can push me to be better.”
Simonova and her dad have been a good combination.
Simonova finished second in girls singles at the Western Canada Games in Fort McMurray, then competed in the U16 and U18 national championships in Quebec and Ontario respectively.
“I didn’t win much at the nationals, but it was a great experience,” she said. “The competition is so much higher than in Alberta and a lot deeper. But it’s good to see a lot of different players and get a chance to play at a high level.”
Simonova lives in Sylvan Lake. She attends Red Deer’s Notre Dame High School and will go into Grade 11 this fall.
She said her success at the Western Canada Games is one of the highlights of her young career.
“I would say it definitely is my biggest accomplishment so far.”
Simonova lost in the final to 15-year-old Ashleigh Jacobs of Calgary, who is ranked No. 1 in Alberta in both the U16 and U18 divisions and second in the Open class. Simonova is ranked third in the U16, fifth in U18 and tied for eighth in the Open class. Standings are determined on points accumulated.
Nationally, Simonova is ranked 52nd in the U16, 76th in U18 and 166th in the Open.
Despite losing to Jacobs and sitting behind her in the rankings, Simonova isn’t intimated by the Calgary star, who she faced at the Western finals a few short hours after defeating a girl from B.C. 2-1 in the semifinal.
“We’ve faced each other several times and I’ve defeated her, so there’s not much difference between us,” she said.
Simonova has won several tournaments, including the 2015 Red Deer Play Tennis Provincials in the women’s open division.
She understands her game and knows exactly what her strengths and weaknesses are.
“My backhand and serve are my strengths,” she said. “My weaknesses are my forehand and my agility. But those are things I can continue to work on.”
One of the advantages Simonova has playing out of the Red Deer Tennis Club is their indoor facility. A disadvantage is not having top competition to train with and against.
“Having the indoor facility is great. I don’t have to worry about training in the winter,” she said.
“As for a training partner, I play against Michael Robinson a lot. He’s younger than I am. But he’s growing and becoming stronger. I’d say he’s about my level now.”
Simonova will graduate high school in 2017 and hopes to get a post-secondary scholarship in the United States.
“That’s my goal,” she said. “As for now, I don’t know what I will take in school, but I have time to decide.”