By Sarah Grimmer
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Picking up a tennis racquet for the first time when he was only five years old, little did Austin Krajicek know he would become one of the best tennis players at Texas A&M University. As he looks to finish out his senior year, Krajicek already holds the USTA/ITA National Indoor Doubles Championship title and Texas A&M's all-time doubles record under his belt. Not too bad for a 20 year old.
"My dad used to play in a tennis league and he took me out to the courts with him when I was five. He handed me a racquet and asked me if I wanted to try and I really liked it."
That simple moment between a father and son left a lasting impression, effectively shaping the course Austin began to take, ultimately leading him to where he is today. "He (his father) wasn't that good," Krajicek recalls, laughing. "But he loved it and had fun doing it, which I saw and transferred over to me."
Entering his first junior tournament when he was seven years old, tennis quickly consumed all of his time. His skills soon passed the coaching level of his father, who then had Austin train with a coach at their tennis club. His natural ability to play the game soon surpassed that coach as well and Austin continued through a string of coaches and several tennis academies before landing at the prestigious IMG/Bollettieri Tennis Academy at the age of 14.
"It definitely wasn't a traditional childhood. Once I got to the academy, it was tennis, all day, every day. I would do some school at night, a lot more school on the weekends and then was traveling a lot for tournaments." Krajicek explains. "Being an only child, it was especially difficult on my mom when I left for the academy. But I was pretty independent at an early age, especially from having to travel so much for tournaments. Most of the time, you are traveling more than you are at home so it kind of makes you that way."
Krajicek's parents have been unwavering in their support of their son's aspiring dreams.
"My parents are awesome, they sacrificed a lot to let me follow my dreams and I am very thankful for the opportunity they have given me. I have taken a never give up type of attitude because of them," said Krajicek. "They have always told me that I might lose but not to lose because I were outworked or lazy or not trying. They really instilled a hard working mentality in me."
That hard-working mentality has unmistakably been evident in his college career. Coming to A&M in 2008, Krajicek made his presence known during his freshman season, making his college debut against Clemson in January. He was honored as co-Big 12 Conference Freshman of the Year and co-Big 12 Newcomer of the Year at the age of 17 and named All-Big 12 in singles and doubles. Austin posted the second-highest doubles record on the team with a 18-8 overall mark (.692) and combined with teammate Conor Pollock to record a 10-1 mark at the No. 1 doubles spot. The duo was ranked nationally at No. 9 by the end of the season.
Krajicek also became the third freshman in school history to be named all conference in singles, only next to former All-Americans Jerry Makowski and Shuon Madden.
Continuing in impressive fashion his sophomore year, Krajicek compiled a team-best 18-6 record playing primarily at No. 2 in singles and was crowned Big 12 No. 2 singles co-Champion. The next season, Krajicek earned All-Big 12 in singles and doubles for the second consecutive season as he made his first NCAA Singles Championship appearance and was ranked as high as No. 44 in the country.
Krajicek and Pollock posted a 30-9 overall in doubles and reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA Doubles Championships for the second year in a row. His accomplishments did not go unnoticed as he became only the second-ever Aggie to earn regional ITA Player to Watch honors since Madden. Austin also captured the Wilson/ITA South Central Region doubles title with the help of Pollock en route to the ITA National Indoor Championships in the fall.
The following year, the All-American posted a 19-7 record playing at the No. 1 singles and was named Co-Big 12 Player of the Year, reaching a career-high No. 5 national ranking. Austin teamed with Jeff Dadamo to post a 19-9 record in doubles also playing at the No. 1 position and was awarded Big 12 Player of the Week twice (3/30/10 & 4/30).
Studying psychology at A&M, Krajicek also earned Academic All-Big 12 second team honors, demonstrating his abilities in the classroom as well. That summer, he reached the finals of that Lewis and Clark Community College USTA Men's Futures Tournament.
Looking to close out his final year, the two-time team Captain and three-time All-American has shown no signs of stopping. This past year, Krajicek has been nationally ranked as high as No. 6 in singles and No. 1 nationally in doubles with partner Dadamo. The dynamic duo won the USTA/ITA National Indoor Championship in Flushing, New York back in November. It was there that Krajicek was awarded with the ITA Sportsmanship Award during the competition.
This spring, Austin clenched another title, as the new doubles record holder for the Aggies. He tied former doubles partner, Pollock, in March against Ohio State at 91 wins. Since then, he has widened the gap between them, looking to capture as many doubles wins as he can before his college career comes to an end.
"He (Conor) came down for the match and gave me a hard time before but it was cool to tie the record and then be able to take it. We played two years together so it's just kind of funny how he had the all-time record and now I do. There's definitely some friendly competition there, I don't know if he really wanted me to win, especially the 92nd win, but I did," Krajicek laughs.
Although it will be bitter sweet ending his time at A&M, Krajicek is looking forward to beginning a new chapter in his life, moving on to the professional level.
"This summer I start full time, I definitely want to play at the professional level. The past four or five summers I've played in pro tournaments so it will be the same, except I won't have to come back to school in the fall," said the senior. "It will be weird not coming back but I'm looking forward to it. I'll play and try it for a couple of years and just see how it goes. I want to play for as long as I can so hopefully I'll have some good results."
Looking back on his accomplishments and standout career in College Station, it's hard to imagine Austin having any trouble pursuing his dreams at the professional level.