When one thinks of a sport, certain ideas come to mind: sweat, work, skill, strength, drilling, drilling, drilling. When one thinks of tennis, different images are conjured. Egypt Valley Country Club, maybe? Pleated skirts, cable knit sweaters, and old money suggest quite the opposite of sweat, work, or any type of drilling. Muskan Rekhani (‘24), one singles player for the girls’ tennis team, flips this notion on its head with her aggressive style of play and the effort she gives to improve.
Starting as a freshman playing one singles, Muskan (nicknamed “The Warrior Princess” by the coach) has played mostly against upperclassmen with multiple years of high school tennis experience. She matches them stroke to stroke. Her quick, detailed movements and expert-level shots can be spotted easily while watching her play, as well as her incredible stamina in playing matches that sometimes last hours. Although Muskan makes it look effortless, the position comes with a lot of stress. “Being one singles is so much pressure, and just being a singles player in general is so much pressure, because it’s just all on you. And it’s just very hard to get used to, especially if everyone’s watching and everyone has these high expectations for you,” Muskan explained. Her biggest challenge has been getting over the nerves that come with the position. As a dedicated student, Muskan also faces difficulties in balancing academics and athletics. When asked how she handles it all, she says, “I come up with a schedule and depending on when we are playing tennis that day, I will make sure to do my homework as soon as possible.”
Muskan has big plans for the coming season, as she will now be the experienced upperclassman she once battled against. “I’m really excited for the upcoming season because our team, ever since my freshman year, has been like all underclassmen,” Muskan exclaimed. With an older, more capable team, girls’ tennis will bring home more victories than ever. Muskan went on to add that “this year especially we’re gonna be so strong. It’s gonna be our peak over my high school experience.” Even though she is not technically a captain, the one singles position gives Muskan a certain leadership responsibility. She is expected to fire players up before big matches, give the athletes tips for their technique or strategy, and give coaches and captains advice on running the team. Speaking about what could be done to improve the Eastern tennis program, Muskan said “I definitely think it should have more advertising and publicity.” She then went on to highlight the uniqueness that the sport brings. “No one realizes that tennis is so different from other sports because it’s so individual, like it’s just you or just you and your partner,” she explained. With that individual aspect comes an emphasis on a strong mental game.
To any looking to play high school tennis in the future, Muskan advises working on your match play and ability to win, despite the opposing player’s style of play. “I wish I knew how much matchplay is more important than just skill,” Muskan said. During the off-season, Muskan now practices her skill and matchplay, playing with teammates and having lessons with the coaches. Although she loves the sport, Muskan’s favorite part of tennis is ultimately the team explaining that we have such a variety of girls who are all so talented and so fun to hang out with.” FHE looks forward to what both Muskan and Eastern girls’ tennis will accomplish come the start of their season this spring.