Smith carries torch into new generation


Walking to the baseline of the tennis court, junior Sajin Smith screeches, “Go Perry!” as several students from Perry Meridian watch in anticipation at the events about to unfold at the match against Whiteland Community High School.
Smith has played tennis since he was five years old after being nudged from his family to try the sport. His father, Bryan Smith, previously ran tennis clinics for the Southside at Center Grove High School, but made the switch to Washington Township summer clinics at North Central High School.
“My dad is a tennis coach and he played tennis throughout his entire life. I was influenced by him, not too hard, but he wanted me to try it.”
Fast forward twelve years, and Smith can be seen playing number one singles for the boys tennis team. However, being the number one player in a varsity lineup does not make Smith feel pressured to be the best.
“My mind doesn’t think that, but in the very back I expect myself to do well and be an example for the team. I know that I want to win and that it can benefit the team, but it’s not down on me, just in the back of my mind.”
Senior Mang Lana, playing number two singles, reiterates Smith’s abilities on the court, calling him “best in the state, easily.”
Aside from Smith being known as a talented athlete among his fellow teammates, he is known as a leader.
“He is always helping the team on the court with technical and tactical tips while also supporting off the court as an enthusiastic teammate,” says his coach, Richard Lord, also the assistant director of the IUPUI Sports Complex.
Smith’s progress originates from his constant practice schedule. Either before or after each practice, he practices with teammates or his dad for an hour. During the offseason, Smith does not stray too far from the courts. Smith says he can be seen practicing six days a week on average, two-to-five hours a day, plus an hour of workouts. This consistent practice has paid off: He had an undefeated regular season last year, made it to state, and participated in several tournaments throughout the previous year.
While his schedule is rigorous during the school year, Smith accredits his hard work to the progress he makes out on the court.
“We do most of the same things every day, but honestly, I’ve done that my entire life. It’s most of the same drills, it’s mostly a progress. I embrace that, in a way, that I know doing it the right way I can get better. My mindset is trying to work through it for the long run.”
Despite the long hours and exhaustion he faces from his daily practice, Smith still remains positive and appreciative of his time spent on the court.
“No matter if the player’s better than me or worse, it’s just fun to go out there. I could lose, completely get destroyed, and if I tried hard and competed well, that’s the only thing that matters to me.”
The boys will take on Bloomington North next Tuesday, Sept. 4 at 6 p.m.