The Forest Hills Eastern women’s tennis team is home to many distinctive athletes. Players come from different backgrounds and cultures: all with unique stories of their own. Local sophomore, Rishika Kokkula, is a prime example of this.
Rishika has been playing tennis since she was eight years old. Throughout the years, she has expanded her skill set and joined the Forest Hills Eastern tennis team during her freshman year of high school.
“We were all pretty new,” she says. “We had no seniors so it was just like a really weird mix of mostly sophomores, a couple of freshmen, and then juniors. But we got super close by the end of the season.” Sometimes after practice, the team would go out and spend time with each other, including the occasional team dinner. These activities helped bring together and shape the team into what it is today.
Practicing hard and learning from mistakes is a part of everyday life. When it comes to tennis, Rishika provides some helpful advice to both those who are just learning and those who are experienced. “Don’t go into the match just thinking that you’re going to get destroyed just [because] you know that they’re going to be better than you,” she advises. Rishika also mentions the importance of learning from mistakes and improving from them, stating: “Be confident with yourself and trust how you play. And know that you can always learn something from playing anyone, no matter how good or bad they are.”
Offering advice to each other helps strengthen the team. Rishika explains, “I’ve taught people strategies that I use to those who are also on the team. Like, we all just help each other out. We’ll share our ideas about mental stuff in the game and then also strategies for playing the game.” The advice shared within the team helped the women place within the top three during last year’s Conferences, and for Rishika to take first at both Conferences and Regionals.
Although there are always ways for teams to improve, Rishika describes how the Forest Hills Eastern women’s tennis team is a wonderful example of a strong, connected, and growing group of women. This close-knit and skillful team, along with shared tips and strategies will lead them to success on the courts this coming season.
Featured image courtesy of Meredith McDonough