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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA tennis spices up already diverse culture

Alex Kulpinski
Alex Kulpinski / Daily Wildcat UA Tennis’ newest addition, Sumeet Shinde, practices his volley at the Robson Tennis Center on Saturday morning.

A distance of nearly 9,000 miles separates Sumeet Shinde from his homeland of Pune, India, but not without reason — Shinde is one of two freshman recruits joining the Arizona men’s tennis team at the school year’s halfway mark.

“With my dad being a big tennis fan, he used to play and I would accompany him to the tennis courts,” Shinde said. “That’s when I started liking this game and started playing it.”

Over the next 11 years, Shinde participated in various junior tournaments throughout the world. He earned two Junior Grand Slam titles and participated in both the Junior U.S. and Australian Opens.

In 2009, Shinde won the Indian ITF Junior Tournament in New Delhi and was also a part of the Indian Junior Davis Cup team in 2007. The 6-foot-2, 180-pounder is ranked the No. 2 junior in India and No. 70 junior in the world.

“Even though Sumeet is a freshman, we feel that his experience playing internationally will help our team immediately with our tough upcoming schedule,” head coach Tad Berkowitz said.

Beyond the international scene, Shinde competed in tournaments in New York, California, Iowa, Florida, New Jersey and Kentucky. Various universities heavily recruited him, including Illinois, Purdue, and George Washington University.

But Arizona stood out above the rest, at least in Shinde’s eyes, thanks mostly to the UA’s campus and Tucson’s weather.

“I was here on a recruiting trip and I liked this place,” he said. “I also liked the team and the coaches. Not to mention the university’s reputation and the fact it is in a very good conference made me decide on this university.”

Shinde plans to study business at the UA, and beyond a life consumed by schoolwork and tennis, Shinde said he enjoys playing soccer, watching action movies like “Saving Private Ryan,” listening to Linkin Park, and reading.

Shinde also adds another cultural dynamic to an already diverse tennis team. He’s the sixth foreigner to join Arizona from abroad, joining players from Taiwan, Romania, Italy, Australia and Brazil.

“I’ve only been able to interact with Sumeet a couple times,” said sophomore Kieren Thompson, who hails from Brisbane, Australia. “He’s a friendly guy but an aggressive player. The longer he’s around the more he will bond with the team.”

But while Shinde brings a lot to the table socially, he’s ultimately at Arizona to play tennis, and he has just one goal in mind for the season — for the team to finish as highly ranked as possible by playing its best tennis.

“Sumeet has a game that can hang with the top players,” Berkowitz said. “His serve is a weapon and he likes to attack the court. Not only will this help our singles lineup, but it will also add an important component to our doubles lineup.”

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