Dynamic Duo A.P. and Reny
March 31, 2010
The pair of aces has helped the team win three Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Titles and advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Most notably, the duo won the 2009 ITA National Indoor Doubles Title, a national championship.
So expectations were high for Petukhova and Kucerkova entering their senior seasons with the Bulldogs, but unfortunately, injuries have put a damper on their swan song. Petukhova, who introduces herself as A.P., has been battling a right elbow injury.
And Kucerkova, who A.P. affectionately calls Reny, suffered a serious foot injury that kept her away from tennis for nearly six months.
Even though their final season hasn't gone exactly as planned, both Kucerkova and Petukhova are looking forward to one last tournament that could save the season for the Bulldogs - the WAC Tournament April 30-May 2.
And wouldn't you know it - it just happens to be in Fresno.
"This WAC Tournament will be our team's chance to win nine in a row and I don't want to be the team that breaks the streak," Petukhova said.
Petukhova expressed the feeling that this may be the first year the team won't win the conference tournament in her time with the 'Dogs, but just like she has for the last three years, Kucerkova was there to lift up her partner's spirit.
"We are more excited about being able to play in Fresno, being able to win it with a very young team," Kucerkova said. "It gives me extra motivation."
Petukhova said that is the sort of thing Kucerkova does as a partner, and vice versa.
"We have this bond and this connection," Petukhova said. "Emotionally, if one of us is nervous or something, the other will have to step it up [and calm the other down]."
But it didn't exactly start that way.
"It took maybe three months for us to get used to each other, and get some good wins and results," Petukhova said. "Since then, we can just go on the court, say nothing, and know what the other person is doing and win the match 8-0."
There have been plenty 8-0 matches for the two. When asked about their favorite memory in their four years wearing Bulldog red, neither could recall on specific moment, saying the entire ride has been fun.
"It's not the stories," Petukhova said. "It's the feeling that I get when I play an important match or when I am done with school or the week of finals when I have to push so hard, and I am dying and I know I have to push more, and I get results, that's the best feeling. And that's the best memory I can take."
Kucerkova added: "It is hard to think of one specific memory that I will always have because I am person who doesn't forget, so I will always have all the memories on the court or off the court and will always be happy to think of them later on."
The two both talked about their special bond, both on the court and away from the game.
Next year, they will both be working on different things. Petukhova said she might not even be playing tennis, saying that she plans to explore other ventures after college is done.
Kucerkova will be with the team next year, not playing, but helping out the younger players on the team.
Wherever their paths take them and whatever the future holds, one of the best doubles pairs to ever play college tennis will have learned a valuable life lesson: the value of a teammate and the value of a friend.
"One cannot win doubles; it has to be both," Petukhova said.
This story was first published in Fresno State's Official Sports Report. To sign up for the report log onto www.officialsportsreport.com.