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4-14-2021-mens-tennis-aditya-gupta-sukhmani-kaur

Junior Aditya Gupta fistbumps a teammate after a match on April 4.

Credit: Sukhmani Kaur

The Daily Pennsylvanian asked Aditya Gupta of Penn men’s tennis 15 questions about his sport, his time at Penn, and how he adapted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s what the junior had to say.

1. Can you introduce yourself?

I'm Aditya Gupta. I'm a junior in the engineering school, and I'm majoring in computer engineering.

2. How do you prepare yourself for matches? Any pre-game rituals?

I wouldn't say I have any pregame rituals in particular. I live with three other guys on the team, so we generally prepare together, make some breakfast, get out on the courts early, listen to whatever pump-up music that gets us going that morning. But otherwise, I wouldn't say any really predefined rituals.

3. What does it feel like to start playing a full season again, after the shortened spring season last year?

Honestly, playing a full season feels fantastic. One of the biggest reasons I came to Penn and one of the biggest parts of my college experience is being on the tennis team, so not playing a full season last year, especially when other teams in the spring were getting to play regularly, was very tough to see. [In] my freshman year, I enjoyed it so much, and it's such a big part of what I do and what we all do. Our lives pretty much is comprised of tennis and school, and so to be back and just to be traveling and see the whole team again and know that we have tournaments and matches that matter really is what I look forward to in the day

4. Did you pick up any hobbies or new interests during quarantine?

Actually, last year in the spring, I was rooming with two other guys on the team, and we were allowed to practice, but there was no competing. Since classes were online, we were mostly in the apartment. Before last year, I really didn't know how to cook much, but one of one of my roommates, Zach Smith, who's on the tennis team as well, he kind of taught me how to cook a bit. I'd say that's a hobby of mine that I picked up and that I probably wouldn't have picked up if there was no pandemic.

5. How did you maintain your training and practices in the past year and during quarantine?

So when the pandemic struck in March, I went back home, and I pretty much just started training with the players who I knew around there and my coaches from high school days, and that's kind of what most of us did. It was tough, because for about four or five months, there were no tournaments at all, and for all of us, especially I know for myself, I was used to competing every other week or weekly even, so that was pretty tough. Sometimes it was tough to find the motivation to train hard when you knew there was nothing coming up. But yeah, we kept up but it was definitely challenging without having much to look forward to

6. How did you get involved with tennis in the first place?

Well, I started when I was pretty young, like, six years old. It was more just a hobby. My parents just kind of put me in a bunch of different sports and I like sports in general. I still love almost every sport, especially basketball, soccer, tennis, all those are great. But I also just kind of had a liking towards tennis and got started getting pretty good when I was around nine, and then things just took off from there. But yeah, it wasn't like a predefined path or anything, just something I started and kind of got good along the way, and I'm really happy that I did.

7. What is your favorite part about playing tennis for the Red and Blue?

Honestly, it's my teammates. I couldn't have asked for a better group of people. I spend, like, every second of my day with with some teammate or another. I think what Penn gives you that maybe other schools don't is that your teammates are great tennis players and great athletes, but they're also such great individuals and intellectuals. The conversations we have ranged from so many different topics, and we interact at such a great level that I think it makes our team that much closer.

8. What should expect from you and the tennis team this season?

This season, we have a very good team. Our number one player actually took a gap year last year and he's ranked in the world now. He's practiced with Roger Federer and he's really good. He is going to have a great year. One of our players just had a good run at the [ITA] All-American [Championships], and I know we have some freshmen who are going to come in and be really good as well and then we have our team from last year. So I would say, conservatively, we should be like a top-35 team this year, if not better.

9. Not only do you do really well in singles events, but you also dominate the court in your doubles events with your partner, Harsh Parikh. How do you guys work together on the court?

I'd say the reason we work well together is because we have really open communication on the court. I don't know how to phrase this, but we never get mad at each other for anything. If he misses a shot, or if I miss a shot, we laugh it off so easily like we don't care at all. We're just really good as a team in that sense. We're not necessarily the best doubles team out there and we don't play textbook tennis, but we compete well together. We have no egos towards each other on the court, and I think that really shows up in clutch moments because we've won a lot of close matches, and I don't think that's a coincidence. I think it's because we're just a strong team together.

10. What is your favorite class at Penn so far?

There's a class that I really liked that I’m taking right now. It's called Circuit-Level Modeling, ESE 370. It's a core class for all computer engineers, and I think the professor's really great in the class. It's actually the hardest class at Penn on Penn Course Review. It's a brutal class but I really like it.

11. Do you have any shows you are binging right now?

I'm not currently because I'm just so busy. I really like "Outer Banks" season one, and I want to watch season two, but if I start watching it, I’d finish it in a day. 

12. What was the last song that you’ve listened to?

It’s a song by Lil Nas X, “That’s What I Want.” I really like it. 

13. What’s your biggest piece of advice to someone looking be in your shoes one day as a Division I tennis player?

I feel like you should always set it as a goal to become like, say, a Division I tennis player or Division I soccer player, whatever you want to become, but you shouldn't put too much pressure on yourself to reach there. I worked super hard to get here, and it was a goal of mine, but my whole life, I wasn't like, I'm gonna become a Division I tennis player. I think if you just work hard, take it step by step, and eventually, you'll get to the point where there are offers on the table for you to take. Playing college sports is one of the best things and it's been a huge blessing for me, [but] I think you shouldn't lose sight of the fact that at the end of the day, it's for fun, you know. You're competing, and you're competing hard, but it's your goal is to have fun out there.

14. What are your plans after you graduate?

Honestly, not too sure. Probably I’d get a job, or maybe do a master's degree. I got an extra two years of eligibility, so if I wanted to, I could go to a master's program and play tennis, which could be pretty hard to pass up. I see, like, 30% grad school, 70% get a job, hopefully, in the robotics space, or some quant finance role would be nice.

15. How do you hope to be remembered at Penn?

I'd say I have two goals specifically aimed towards tennis. I'd say, individually, it would be huge if at least one year, maybe my senior year, I can make the NCAA individual tournament. That would be really tough, but I know I have it in me. I don't think we've had anyone who's done that, but we've had people get close. As a team, I really love to win the Ivies while we're here. We honestly have a really good shot this year, but we just have to make it happen. I’d like to leave a good impact on the program, move it going forward in the right direction. I want to see our rankings improve every year and by the time we're at our highest ranking, that'd be nice.

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