April 18, 2014
By Richard Finn
Special to BIGEAST.com
In our latest “Getting to Know” feature, we check in with Creighton senior men’s tennis student-athlete Billy Paluch. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree in the Paluch household in Rapid City, S.D. His father, Darryl, played tennis at the University of New Mexico and now teaches the game. His mother, Carolyn, played at St. Thomas and sister, Whitney, played college tennis. So it is no surprise that the fifth-year senior has been playing tennis almost as far back as he can remember.
He has also put together a career at Creighton that many Bluejays fans will remember for a long time. Playing primarily at No. 1 singles and doubles, he ranks No. 1 in school history for most combined wins with 146 thanks to a 72-45 singles mark and a 74-43 record in doubles.
After missing last year with a foot injury, Paluch has returned with an 18-5 singles record and 13-8 doubles mark and is an important reason why Creighton is 10-6 on the season so far. We caught up with the investment and securities major (3.66 graduate school GPA) this week before the Bluejays’ final two BIG EAST league matches against Butler and Marquette.
BIGEAST.com: You come from a tennis playing family. What was that like?
Paluch: A lot of families go out to the park. We go out and play tennis. From the moment I was born my dad had a racquet next to me. It was from the womb basically. My parent did a great job encouraging me. It has been great.
BIGEAST.com: Are you now the best in the family?
Paluch: That might be up for debate. My dad would like to debate that. Maybe you should talk to him. We all love playing and we are all out there together at the end of the day and that is what matters.
BIGEAST.com: You broke your right foot last February and missed the rest of the season. How tough was it to come back off that injury?
I had surgery after the injury so I was bedridden for a while and you can’t help but think that everything will be over. I fought back one step at a time.
BIGEAST.com: It must have been difficult not being able to play tennis for several months.
Paluch: I have played tennis my entire life and had never taken more than a couple of weeks off. So it was a huge step in a different direction for me. It took a lot out of me mentally. It’s been tough but I had great support from my coaching staff and my teammates and have been putting in the work. It’s been one of the great years in my life so I am so thankful. I take a new perspective going out on the court every day. Winning and losing is a huge part of it, but at the end I know that one step could lead to the end. I try to take nothing for granted and each point I play one at a time.
BIGEAST.com: You have had a historic career at Creighton with the most combined wins in school history. To what do you attribute your success?
Paluch: I am definitely a player who came into school and got substantially better. I feel that I was nowhere near the player I am now when I got here. I have had so many great teammates along the way to push me to make me better every day.
BIGEAST.com: Does the future hold more competitive tennis for you?
Paluch: I have struggled with that decision on whether to give up tennis at a turn of a dime to give it up for a professional business career. That’s difficult. As of right now I will intern at an investment banking firm in New York this summer and I guess after that I will be able to make a decision whether that is something I am interested in and a career path that way, or if not tennis is right there. I know that tennis will be there for the rest of my life, whether I am playing competitively or not.