By Chelsey Kraft
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
A star on the tennis court, University of Oklahoma senior Costin Paval has another passion as well: electronics.
Paval, a self-proclaimed computer geek, enjoys various aspects of electronics, including playing video games and watching movies. When he got his first computer at age 12, much of Paval’s time was spent on the device.
“I was insanely in love with it [the computer],” Paval admits. “My parents restricted my time on the computer because I was spending a lot of time on it. I find technology really fascinating.”
Growing up with a father who played professional rugby and a mother who played professional tennis, Paval was used to being around athletics.
When Paval was three, his mother taught at a tennis club in Germany. Paval spent time with her on the campus of the club during the day, but he still wanted to see his mom more. One day, he got upset and started crying because she never played tennis with him. That’s when Paval’s tennis career was born.
Paval came to OU from Bucharest, Romania, a decision he says was tough in the beginning. However, he was comfortable with it since he was the one who made the choice to move so far from home.
Looking back, he knows his decision was the right one.
“You’re always going to think that something might be better than what you have, but I definitely think this was the best option I had,” Paval says. “I don’t regret coming to Oklahoma.”
In his time as a Sooner, Paval has garnered an array of honors: Big 12 Freshman of the Year and Big 12 Player of the Year. He was also a two-time All-American in doubles and an All-American in singles.
Some of his career highlights are winning the Big 12 regular-season title and tournament last year and appearing in the Elite Eight in 2010 after upsetting Texas in the Sweet 16.
Paval describes himself as a perfectionist, which he thinks is part of what makes him a good tennis player.
His head coach, John Roddick, knows Paval as a competitor who is nice, thoughtful and articulate off the court. Roddick adds Paval might be the best player in OU history.
“He’s had a great impact on the program,” Roddick said. “He was here when the program missed the NCAA tournament to when we won the Big 12, got a high seed in the tournament, so he’s seen a good side of it, too. He’s one of the only current players who has been through both sides of it.”
When Paval first arrived at OU, he joined a middle-ranked team that has improved to be ranked as high as a program-best No. 5 this season.
Personally, in his career, Paval has been as high as No. 4 in singles and No. 1 in doubles.
Paval is glad he has been able to contribute to this success.
“Coming to a program that wasn’t as competitive and just bringing it to one of the top teams in the nation is an amazing feeling,” Paval says.
Dane Webb, Paval’s doubles partner, describes his teammate as nice and says he has enjoyed his time around him.
“We’ve played doubles together since I first got here, and he’s a great guy.” Webb says. “He works hard and wins a lot, so it’s been great having him on the team.”
Paval is talented at tennis and a good guy who always looks to help people, especially when it can help the team and work for the greater good, according to his senior teammate Ryan Proctor.
“It’s been funny because Costin and I are so different and come from different countries, but we’ve learned to communicate really well and understand each other have a pretty close friendship at this point,” Proctor says. “It’s been really fun developing that relationship.”
Now, Paval has developed another role aside from being a leader on the court: go-to electronics fixer for the team.
Webb says he has had Paval help him fix his phone a couple of times and that Paval always has his computer with him on the road.
“When the guys on the team usually have problems with electronics, it’s me that helps them out and fixes them,” Paval shares.Whether he is fixing electronic devices or winning matches, Paval will continue to be a crucial component of his team.