Australian Bulls’ junior aspires to be ATP pro

Partnering with legend Murray was a major inspiration

University of South Florida Bulls Men's tennis player
Tom Pavlekovich-Smith returning a serve on his forehand in his singles match. (Photo by Lucas Argier/Toronto Observer) 

TAMPA. Fla. – Tom Pavlekovich-Smith is hoping that his international tennis playing experience will propel him to the ATP Futures Tour someday. 

The young Aussie, currently with the University of South Florida Bulls, has played in many different countries such as South Korea, America, and his home country.

He was a part of the 2021 Australian Open as a rally partner and got the opportunity to have a session with tennis star Andy Murray. 

“Yeah. It was a pretty cool experience with Andy,” said Pavlekovich-Smith after defeating Ari Cotoulas of Penn State 6-3, 7-6 (7-6) on Wednesday.  “I had applied to be a rally partner for the tournament and I got to do that with some of the lower and unranked players”. 

Then came the phone call asking if he’d like to play with Murray. 

“I raced back [from home] to the court and it was really cool because it was just Andy and I.”

He remembers that rally with Murray was so intense and humbling and how there are certain things that he does that make his game so unique and exciting to watch. 

Pavlekovich-Smith hails from Melbourne, Australia and has been involved with tennis since he was three years old. 

“My sister is 10 years older than me,” said the USF Junior, “I started watching her and I was around tennis courts and clubs … and I eventually fell in love with it”. 

The Melbourne native started playing tennis and once he got competitive, he had the opportunity to travel to Seoul, South Korea to play in an international tournament against some highly-ranked Korean players. 

Tom Pavlekovich-Smith’s winning point to force a second set tiebreak. (Photo by Lucas Argier/Toronto Observer)

“It was a great experience to go to Asia and play against some tough competition. When you’re from an isolated area, the competition is the same sort of, so it was cool to play against other people in the world.” 

Pavlekovich-Smith will be finishing his college career in spring of 2025 and hopes to stay in America to play on the ATP Futures Tour.  

“After I’m done here at USF, I hope to make it onto the ATP Futures Tour and hopefully make it to the ATP Tour one day,” he said. 

“I want to continue playing as long as I can and my dream is to play at the Australian Open in my hometown of Melbourne with all of my friends and family watching”. 

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Posted: Mar 7 2024 9:01 pm
Filed under: Sports Tennis