Tennis: who knew the impact it could have?


Neena Thomas-Gosain

Raj (11) and Sofia (10) Gosain still continue to play tennis through the pandemic. Though many things have changed, they still get to enjoy their sport through uncertain times.

Every friendship starts with a conversation–that’s obvious. Where these conversations happen, and how they come about is not.  For Raj (11) and Sofia Gosain (10), tennis has been a great opportunity for many conversations and friendships to begin, whether for the school team or competitively. 

Tennis has especially been important for the Gosain siblings as they continue to enjoy this sport despite  the pandemic. 

“At the start [of quarantine], we kind of took a break,” Raj said. “I took off for a longer period, but then we started playing back again and our parents play with us now so that’s pretty nice.”

However, both started playing tennis long before the virus and restrictions came into play: for them, tennis began at an early age with both starting in early elementary school and beginning tournaments before 11. 

“Technically, we started when I was four, …  although I didn’t really actually start playing until I was nine, but we stayed at our grandparents house one summer and my grandma signed us up … for tennis as well,” Sofia said.

As social interactions right now are limited, these siblings’ common interest in tennis makes an opponent always available for them. They often do not get the opportunity to compete together, but often practice together instead, although not always enthusiastically. 

“We will [play together] in practice, I guess, if the coach says so, but there’s not really mixed [gender] doubles tournaments,” Raj said. 

Due to the lack of mixed-doubles tournaments, Raj and Sofia often play with their friends instead. Although they enjoy playing singles, or even doubles with each other, some of their best memories have been playing with friends.

“In my eighth grade year for the school team, me and my friend Abhi won the Shelby County doubles title, so that was pretty awesome,” Raj said. 

Doubles tournaments have been one great way for acquaintances to become better friends. Opposed to just competing solo, in doubles, teammates have to work together to achieve victory, which has been one way the Gosains have made deeper connections with their friends. Both Abhi Linguaraddey (11) and Raj agree that if it had not been for tennis, their friendship would definitely not be as strong as it is now.

“Me and Raj had seen each other at school before, but the first time we ever met each other, the first time we had ever talked to each other was because Raj had seen me in a tournament and we were talking about what happened in the tournament,” Abhi Linguaraddey (11) said. “ Raj is one of my best friends now. That was one of the major relationships I’ve made through tennis. If it weren’t for that, I probably wouldn’t have been as good friends as we are now.”

Now, while there is less availability to hang out with friends and practice due to pandemic, tennis  provides a chance for socializing. With proper safety precautions Sofia continues to compete with Junior Team Tennis ( JTT). 

“I do JTT with other kids,” Sofia said. “We also do group lessons and that’s with kids all kind of around our age, some a little older, some a little younger… that’s a weekly thing so that’s how I’ve been getting my match play in.”

Soon, Raj and Sofia hope to practice with the tennis team again and enjoy a match with friends.

“I had a lot of fun playing tennis for the team,” Raj said. “…and I think I just enjoy it more than playing on my own.”