By Foster Nicholas | Sports Writer
Baylor men’s tennis has seen a lot of turnover since its 2022 Big 12 Championship season, but junior Tadeas Paroulek has grown into a leader and has taken on the challenge of playing on court one for the Bears.
Paroulek, who goes by “Teddy,” transferred to Baylor in 2021 after playing two years for Texas Christian University. During his first year as a Bear, Paroulek held down court five for the green and gold, playing in a more limited role.
Now, the junior steps on to court one for Baylor and leads the team in singles wins (7), doubles wins (10), and match clinching points (2). With a boosted 2023 résumé, the growth from the No. 77 singles player in the nation has been exactly what head coach Michael Woodson expected.
“He doesn’t always have a great practice or a great match, but he controls everything that he can control,” Woodson said. “That’s really what separates him from a lot of his peers.”
Paroulek said he understands the work that must be put in everyday in order to have success at a high level. The Prague, Czech Republic, native continues to hone his craft because he said he understands the opportunity he has been given is one that doesn’t come around often.
“It’s a privilege to play number one for a big tennis school such as Baylor,” Paroulek said. “I’m trying to take it responsibly and I’m very grateful to have the opportunity.”
As the team was gearing up for the spring season, Paroulek went into early practices not knowing who his doubles partner would be. Just a few months later, Paroulek is a part of the No. 10 doubles duo in the nation.
Freshman Zsomber “Z” Velcz has been alongside Paroulek throughout the entire season and it’s all thanks to a random pairing on the biggest stage. The duo worked out and stuck.
“We literally just wrote their names down together going into a big national tournament in the fall, and they looked pretty good,” Woodson said. “They really enjoyed playing together and then [they kept] winning, winning begets more winning. That’s certainly been the case for those two and it’s been fun to watch.”
Paroulek and Velcz have been formidable foes for the opposition. The tandem was unranked coming into the season, but the constant work being put in by both has created a tough duo to face off against.
“[We] definitely weren’t meaning to put them together and had no thought of them playing together in the spring at the time,” Woodson said. “They’ve just continued to build and I think the professionalism and the discipline Teddy brings everyday benefits himself and everybody else. Z has learned a lot from Teddy and he’s starting to emulate Teddy on the practice court, and he’s seeing the fruits of that labor pay off.”
Baylor’s leader on court one fell in love with the game of tennis as a kid when his father, a tennis coach, started hitting tennis balls at him when he started walking. However, the sport was not the only young love for Paroulek.
“Besides tennis, when I was younger I used to play the violin a lot and that’s a hobby I had growing up,” Paroulek said. “I enjoy classical music and playing violin.”
The Bears are in the middle of a homestand, and Paroulek said he’ll be getting amped up for matches by listening to classical music. Baylor will take on Arizona State University for the second time this year at 1 p.m. on Sunday at the Hurd Tennis Center.
Paroulek said Baylor is home to him and he hopes to continue seeing strong support from the fanbase the rest of the way.
“[I love] to see our fans and embrace a great atmosphere,” Paroulek said. “That’s why we play.”