BYU Tennis’ Kate Cusick Truman, Polina Malykh pursue season goals


From entering their freshman season together to coaching changes and even playing as doubles partners, seniors Polina Malykh and Kate Cusick Truman have new plans for their final season together. 

BYU won its first home match of the 2020 season against Weber State University on Jan. 18. The match marked the beginning of the final season for two BYU players. Cusick Truman and Malykh have both been playing for BYU since the 2016 season and have made contributions to the program during their tenure here. The pair are the only two seniors on the roster.

“It’s crazy to think that it’s just us two because there were more of us when we started together, but it’s great to have a person who knows the experience the same way you know,” Malykh said. “Kate and I grew up together and it’s a privilege to stand by her.”

Katie Cusick Truman practices her forehand skills during a 2020 tennis practice. Cusick Truman is currently playing as BYU’s No. 1 singles player in addition to being on the No. 1 doubles pairing. (Preston Crawley)

Cusick Truman is originally from Provo, and is currently playing No. 1 singles while also being a part of No. 1 doubles pair with Leah Heimuli. During her freshman season Cusick Truman played No. 3 singles and No. 2 doubles the majority of the year and continued in those positions throughout her sophomore and junior seasons. 2020 marks her first year playing in the No. 1 spot in both singles and doubles, and she has started the season in a big way. In her first match of the season, Cusick Truman and Heimuli won their match 6-4. During her season opener at No. 1 singles, Truman won her match up 6-4, 6-2, earning wins in her first games as both a No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles player for BYU.

“I’ve been reflecting a lot on the past four years and I’ve realized more this year that it’s not about wins and losses,” Cusick Truman said. “This year has taught me that (winning) is not what I’ll remember, I’ll take away the feelings that I felt.”

Malykh is originally from Moscow, Russia, and is currently playing No. 4 singles and No. 2 doubles paired with Emilee Astle. Malykh has played in a variety of singles spots and has played at No. 2 doubles before. Malykh is recovering from a knee injury in October, one that was originally injured during her freshman season, and was cleared ten days before the teams opening match.

“The process of coming back from that was hard and rehab was terrible, but knowing there were so many more things I wanted to do and so much more I could give to the team helped me,” Malykh said. “It was motivation knowing it wasn’t over yet for me.”

BYU tennis player Polina Malykh practices her forehand. The native of Moscow, Russia, is one of two seniors currently on the women’s tennis team. (Preston Crawley)

During the Weber State match, Malykh and Astle won 7-5, and in singles play Malykh lost a three set match, winning the first set 6-2, losing the second 7-5, and falling in the final set 1-0.

Cusick Truman and Malykh have even been doubles partners during their four-year tenure. During their sophomore season, they played No. 2 doubles together and had great success. Truman and Malykh had a 6-3 record in league matches, leading BYU in conference wins during the 2018 season. 

“Playing together brought us so much closer because we were on the same page and we fought our hearts out together. And it makes it so much more special now that we are the only two seniors,” said Cusick Truman. 

Both of the players talked about the bond that they have formed over the last four years and the fact that they are the only two players that are still on the team from their freshman class. In their final season as Cougars, both Truman and Malykh have a new perspective for this season.

“Polina and I have actually talked about how we want this season to go and we both feel the same way that we just want to enjoy this season,” said Cusick Truman. “We both have personal and team goals but at the end of the day that’s not what matters, I just want to enjoy my last season.”

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