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Athletes of Ayala: Shivani Gangireddy and a race between tennis and time

The challenge of balancing education and athletics is not easy for anyone to simply accomplish. For Shivani Gangireddy (12), tennis is a middle ground between sports and an activity for unwinding.
Shivani Gangireddy
The challenge of balancing education and athletics is not easy for anyone to simply accomplish. For Shivani Gangireddy (12), tennis is a middle ground between sports and an activity for unwinding.

For student athletes, the struggle of balancing sports and academics is often a hardship that may not deliver the best results if poorly accomplished. Nevertheless, these challenges have not dissuaded the senior co-captain Shivani Gangireddy from juggling tennis, school, and her own personal life. 

Though her successful career in tennis began early during her fourth grade year at Wickman Elementary School, Shivani’s interest only increased over the years. 

“My parents kind of just put me into tennis because they wanted me to play a sport,” Gangireddy said. “I just started unconsciously liking it myself so I continued.”

Additionally, Shivani’s interest was cultivated alongside close friends who, together, learned to grasp and improve in the sport. 

“I first met her in kindergarten and I thought she was the strangest human being ever,” said Ishita Bolluju (12), a close friend of Shivani who practiced tennis with her for many years. “Personality, I feel like she stayed the same, very bubbly and giddy. But she changed academic and tennis wise.”

Despite its clean simplicity, tennis is not a straightforward sport that people often view it as. It requires constant careful strategizing, quick decision making skills, and years of constant practicing in order to develop adept expertise of the sport. On the court, one wrong action could easily obstruct the entire play. However, skilled players often find tennis a tremendous release from outside stress and negativity.

“It’s just so structured,” Gangireddy said. “Honestly, when I have a bad day, I can take all my anger out, take all my emotions out on tennis, and it just makes me feel good when I hit.”

In addition to her spectacular skill in tennis, Shivani is known for her amazing academic abilities. To increase her experience in the medical field— her aspiring future career— Shivani has volunteered at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center and recently began shadowing a doctor to gain more knowledge.

While Shivani’s work ethic is undeniably prominent, she has also displayed many leadership qualities both inside and outside of the court.

“Mostly because of her hard work and dedication and she’s able to communicate to all of the other players,” Girls Varsity Coach Paulette Ojinaga said when asked about Shivani’s chosen role as co-captain. “I’ve had some captains in the past that the players are actually kind of afraid of. So instead of being intimidated by Shivani, she is more approachable, and I think the kids relate to her a little bit better or are able to talk to her cause she’s a little more calm and subdued.”

According to coaches and teammates, Shivani also strives to overcome obstacles, often taking on the challenges of different types of plays in tennis. While excelling in singles games, her performance in doubles this season have produced many stunning successes, which have helped this year’s girls varsity team to achieve their goal of making CIF. Fortunately, Shivani has been supported by several coaches that assisted her in honing her skills and learning the sport. 

“She was just like, ‘go out there and have fun, do what you know,’” Gangireddy said about Coach Ojinaga’s advice. “‘You know how to play so just show what you know.’ And I think that honestly goes for a lot, like, you don’t have to stress about it. Just take whatever you know [and] just do your best and everything will be fine.”

Though she will not professionally pursue tennis in her future, Shivani still hopes to continue playing with friends as a hobby while majoring in biology during college at a university in California such as the University of California San Diego (UCSD) or University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Until then, Shivani hopes to cherish her very memorable high school experience with her close friends and family.

“I think tennis, all the clubs, all the classes I had with my friends, all [those are] definitely memories that I’ll talk about years from now,” Gangireddy said.

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Kaylani Hsu, Assistant Sports Editor
Kaylani Hsu (9) is a writer and reporter for The Bulldog Times, and this is her first year on the staff. Kaylani looks forward to meeting new people, expanding her knowledge in writing, and helping with growing the Journalism team. Her goal is to inform as many students as possible about current affairs, and aspires to one day secure a high ranking position in the class. While working as part of the staff, Kaylani is also part of the girl’s frosh volleyball team and hopes to join as many clubs as possible throughout her high school career. Kaylani enjoys eating almost any kind of food, dancing and (trying) to sing, and hanging out with her close friends.
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