In a career that has donned the colors of two universities, persevered through injury and gained academic achievement, Alaina Trgovich is nearing the end of her five-year career as a collegiate tennis athlete.
Trgovich started playing tennis at the age of five and honed her skills as a tennis player growing up, eventually becoming a coveted recruit coming out of high school.
As a senior in high school, Trgovich was named as a national All-American selection and was ranked as the No. 42 recruit in the country, as she decided to play tennis for the University of Kentucky.
However, after one year with the Wildcats, it was apparent to her that UK was not the right choice. Trgovich eventually selected Wisconsin as the school she would transfer to because of the academic prestige and the proximity to her home state of Indiana.
“I just got the vibe that I didn’t see myself [at Kentucky] all four years,” Trgovich said. “Academics were a huge thing for me. This school is so much better. There is more support here from the professors and people in athletics. It’s also nice being closer to home so my family is able come and watch a lot of my matches.”
So Trgovich transferred to Madison ready to take on the academic challenges that the university had to offer and start a long successful career with the Badgers.
If only things would have gone that smoothly.
In her first dual match of the season with Wisconsin, Trgovich tore her ACL and was forced to undergo season-ending surgery.
“I was crushed,” Trgovich said. “I had really high hopes to come here and do a lot of good things and help the team make it to the NCAAs. After that I was really upset. My rehab process was very long and hard. I didn’t get cleared for 10 months. It was a real roller coaster ride.”
After her injury, Trgovich received a medical redshirt and was forced down the long road of recovery.
Dreams of being an All-Big Ten player and All-American selection were shattered as she began to relearn how to play the game she had played all of her life, not being sure if she could trust her knee.
Junior Hannah Berner, one of Trgovich’s teammates and close friends, remembers Trgovich going through the recovery process and how far she has come since that point.
“When I first knew her, she was recovering from her ACL injury,” Berner said. “I watched her grow from points that she didn’t know if she could even play anymore or ever go back to the level that she was at to now seeing her play one [singles] and get a huge win last weekend is so amazing. I am so glad to have seen that improvement happen.”
Head coach Brian Fleishman also reflected on Trgovich’s injury and how impressive it is that she has made the adjustment and recovery from, arguably, one of the most devastating injuries an athlete can suffer.
“Trying to overcome an injury like that, especially for a tennis player where side-to-side movement is so essential, is so demanding,” Fleishman said. “For her to get over that hump and being able to play as well as she is right now, I think that’s her biggest accomplishment since she has been here.”
Over the next three years, Trgovich continued to play tennis and adapt her game to her recovering knee.
This season Trgovich has played every one of her doubles matches in the number one position with Berner and most recently with sophomore Nicky Stracar. In singles, she started off in the No. 4 spot but has worked her way up to the No. 1 position in singles play.
Fleishman elaborated on his decision to start Trgovich in the number No. 4 in singles.
“I started her off at No. 4 and she wasn’t pleased with me,” Fleishman said. “I didn’t think that she was playing good tennis at the time. Then, each time she’s gone out to compete she’s gotten better. The only way that I can move her up to the number one spot is for her to win.
“She’s won enough matches to work herself up. She’s done it all herself. She’s improved a lot since day one of the season until now.”
Trgovich has indeed won, as the senior is coming off of her biggest win of the season, defeating Indiana’s No. 67 ranked Leslie Hureau on Sunday.
As a fifth-year senior, Trgovich is nearing the end of her career as a collegiate tennis player and is looking ahead to her hopeful future profession.
Trgovich is studying rehabilitation psychology where she hopes that she can take her experience of overcoming a serious injury and use that experience to help aid other athletes overcome injuries like hers.
Berner is inspired by her friend’s ability to overcome what she has in her playing career and believes that Trgovich will do a great job helping other people get through it as well.
“She has really been inspiration to girls to tear their ACLs and can’t even play anymore. She’s been through so much and to be able to succeed is really impressive. She will definitely inspire other girls who have had traumatic injuries.”