The difference in personalities between Missouri tennis player Hana Kraftova and her opponent March 7 could not have been more apparent.
Oklahoma’s Irina Lykina, whose wild gestures and screams of self-motivation made her noticeable throughout Green Tennis Center, was on one side of the court.
Kraftova kept a lower profile at the other end. She showed little to no emotion and words of encouragement she offered herself stayed below an audible level.
Kraftova said being boisterous is not her style.
“I’ve never been loud on the court,” Kraftova said.
Although Kraftova is reserved, her recent play has demanded plenty of attention.
Since losing in singles and doubles against Oklahoma, Kraftova has registered at least one win in every match. Kraftova beat Kansas State’s Paulina Castillejos 6-3, 6-2 and paired with Lucie Ruskova to beat Hayley McIver and Emily Mickelson 8-5 in Manhattan on Wednesday for her latest victories.
Kraftova, a sophomore, has a team-best 11-4 singles record.
“It’s something to be proud of,” Kraftova said.
Kraftova will try to continue her success Saturday when Missouri (10-8, 3-5 Big 12 Conference) plays Nebraska at noon at Green Tennis Center. The Cornhuskers (11-5, 1-3) are coming off 7-0 wins against Iowa State on March 26 and St. Louis on Sunday.
Missouri coach Blake Starkey said Kraftova’s athleticism and strong forehand are strengths of her game.
“She’s got some weapons other players don’t have,” Starkey said.
Starkey said Kraftova’s demeanor also plays a part in her success.
“She’s a very mature person,” Starkey said.
Kraftova said much of this maturity is a result of the transition she made from the Czech Republic to Columbia last year.
Kraftova said it was a big adjustment to come to the United States. She credits her improved grasp of English as one thing that has made this year less stressful.Kraftova also said an increased familiarity with the Big 12 style of play has given her more confidence.
“Now, I’m starting to know what’s going on,” Kraftova said. “I remember the girls I played last year.”
Kraftova, the Tigers’ No. 3 player, has also had the chance to play against higher-level competition this year.
Lykina was Oklahoma’s No. 2 player and Kraftova played Fresno State’s No. 1 on March 21.
Starkey said Kraftova’s improvement and success have merited these opportunities.
“Every time I get the chance to put her on the court with a nationally ranked player, I do it,” Starkey said.