Not many people can say they achieved one of their life goals while still a teenager, but Anicka Fajnorova is one of the rare exceptions. Because every time she steps foot onto the court with her Seton Hall Pirate teammates, Fajnorova is living out a goal which she had set from a young age.
“College tennis was my goal since I was a kid,” Fajnorova said. “College was the top for me. I had the option to choose to go pro, or continue my dream and play college sports, and I chose college sports,” Fajnorova said. “Because I always loved studying, I loved school, I was very into it, but tennis was always a huge part of me. I spent most of my life on the tennis court.”
This dual focus which Fajnorova exhibits is something that was instilled in her from a young age. It was her dad who motivated her to excel in athletics, but her mom who always maintained the balance with academics.
Fajnorova has applied that approach while at Seton Hall, managing to focus on her tennis commitments while also venturing into the business world to prepare herself for life after the sport, whenever that may be. It was this time last spring that Fajnorova, a business major, joined the professional business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi, in the midst of her freshman season with the team.
The experience was intense, requiring a good deal of extra work on top of her crowded schedule, and going over all applicable skills from interviewing, to writing resumes, to designing a LinkedIn.
“When I put so much weight on my plate at once, and I made it through; I ended up on the Dean’s List, I did fine in the season. I mean, I pledged, I played; I think that semester it was so hard that I can actually do anything,” Fajnorova said.
On the court, Fajnorova has stepped up this season from holder of the No. 3 singles spot to No. 2. This jump up in the lineup means an increase in the quality of opponent, something which might cause struggle for some, but hasn’t for Fajnorova. Instead she has only answered the heightened competition by improving from her 8-7 mark last season to a team-leading 13-3 record this season.
As only a sophomore, Fajnorova has become one of the focal points of a Pirates program that is making significant strides under new head coach Riza Zalameda. Still though, despite Fajnorova’s No. 2 slot, Zalameda hesitates to call her a veteran.
“To me she is still a young one,” Zalameda said. “We’ve been talking about her role on the team, and definitely her role is to get that point for us, push her teammates in practice. And I think she’s just embracing that, and you can see it in her results.”
Those results began in the fall with a 4-2 record, but really caught fire when the calendar turned to 2017. Fajnorova opened the year with a win over Princeton’s highly-ranked No. 2 Sivan Krems, a result Zalameda called one of the shocking outcomes in the northeast. From there Fajnorova won five straight singles matches, and has altogether won nine of 10 matches in the spring season.
With still a handful of matches before Fajnorova puts a close on her sophomore campaign, Zalameda sees potential for Fajnorova to achieve great things during her time in South Orange. Still though, she also recognizes Fajnorova’s commitment to business, and emphasized a short-term approach to everything on the court.
“For her, I know her studies are important to her, and I want her to do well. So, it’s just little doses, I want her to focus on what she can control right now,” Zalameda said. “Stay in the moment, because if you worry too much about what is going to happen four years from now, you’re going to paralyze yourself.”
James Justice can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JamesJusticeIII.