Sachiv Kumar’s favorite sport when he was growing up in Northville featured a ball and a net — but it wasn’t the activity he would earn unparalleled success in high school.
“I remember loving soccer when I was a kid,” recalled Kumar. “I liked the team aspect. But I learned pretty quickly that I was better at tennis, so I started committing most of my time to that.”
To say it has been time well spent would be an understatement.
On Oct. 21, Kumar captured his third consecutive Division 1 No. 1 singles title when he defeated longtime rival and friend Clayton Anderson or Rochester, 6-2, 6-4, in the championship match.
Kumar did not lose a set on the way to his tennis triple crown this fall — amazing considering he was facing off against the elite high school players in the state.
He finished his high school career with a 69-1 record.
The straight-A student, who has committed to pursue a degree and play tennis at the University of Wisconsin, said the keys to his success are his commitment to practice and a style that emphasizes attacking the net.
“I’m very aggressive in general,” he said. “A lot of kids play defensive, especially when they’re younger, because they haven’t developed a lot of strength yet. I think attacking early in points when I was young helped me when I got older.
“As far as practice, of course, there are days I don’t feel like playing, but practicing when you’re not necessarily 100% into it is what separates you as a player. You have to look at your goals and ask yourself, ‘How bad do I want it?'”
Kumar started playing tennis consistently when he was 6 or 7. He won his first tournament at the age of 10.
“I remember it was a local tournament at Schoolcraft College on courts that have since been torn out,” he said, smiling.
“I probably own over 100 rackets. I still have my first one laying around somewhere — one of those kiddy rackets that was probably about this big (he held his hands about two feet apart).”
Kumar said he appreciates the support he has received from his Northville High School classmates, and the district’s teachers and administrators.
“The first year I won the state championship when I was a sophomore, everybody was coming up to me at school and congratulating me,” he said. “I was seeded fifth that year, so nobody — including myself — expected me to win it all.
“This year I didn’t get as many students coming up to me because it’s gotten to the point where I think it me winning was kind of expected, but everybody still showed me a lot of love.
“Our athletic director, Mr. Samulski, does a great job of sharing the school’s athletes’ success on social media.”
Kumar acknowledged that he understands why tennis doesn’t generate as much fan interest as, let’s say, football.
“It bothers me a little that tennis doesn’t get the level of attention other sports do, but it’s understandable because, I mean, it’s not like football where the fans can tailgate and everything,” he said, smiling.
All about family
Family support has meant everything to the personable Kumar, whose two older sisters played for Northville before ultimately playing for the University of Michigan’s club team.
“I couldn’t have done this without my parents,” he asserted.
“All the practices they’ve taken me to, all the clinics they’ve signed me up for,” he said. “Once the high school season ends, your parents are like your coach and agent because they take you to all your tournaments and pay for everything. They know how much I appreciate them.”
Kumar said he was pleasantly surprised at last month’s state championship tournament when the father of a player he had just defeated approached him and gifted him a copy of Tom Brady’s book, The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance.
“I thought that was really cool,” he said. “I haven’t finished the book yet, but it’s about preserving excellence.”
Having earned a 3.97 grade-point average at NHS, Kumar is deciding between pursuing a degree in computer science or economics.
Whatever he chooses, you can bet he’ll attack it like he attacks the net on the tennis court — with poise and purpose.
Ed Wright can be reached at 734-664-4657 or firstname.lastname@example.org.