Four-year letterman values relationships with relentless play on court


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Coppell senior co-captain Rishita Uppuluri hits a backhand during her doubles match against Marcus on Sept. 18, 2018 as a sophomore. Uppuluri values the relationships she has created during her four years on varsity tennis more than winning or losing. (Sidekick file photo)

Varshitha Korrapolu, Staff Writer

As she stepped on to the tennis court, she was unsure of what the future held. Astonishment, shock and happiness rushed inside of her when Rishita Uppuluri found out she made the Coppell varsity tennis team as a freshman. 

“It was kind of a surprise, to be honest,” said Uppuluri, now a senior. “I was the only freshman girl on the team, and I didn’t think he’d take any, so I was surprised that I made it.” 

According to Coppell coach Rich Foster, very few girls make the varsity tennis team their freshman year because they are not at the point to compete at the varsity level. 

“[Uppuluri] struck me early on as an outstanding young lady that was going to add a lot to our team,” Foster said.“She was a very mature young lady and she appeared to be somebody who didn’t back down. Sometimes kids, girls and boys, can tend to be meek and not willing to stand up for themselves, and she didn’t seem like that type of player.” 

Coppell senior co-captain Rishita Uppuluri serves against Lewisville’s Helyna Dim on Oct. 8 at the CHS Tennis Center. Uppuluri values the relationships she has created during her four years on varsity tennis more than winning or losing. (Sally Parampottil)

Even though Uppuluri had the willingness and maturity, being the only freshman girl on a competitive tennis team can be intimidating. 

“[Uppuluri] struck me as a shy person, and every once in a while I would get a smile out of her but not too many words,” Foster said. 

However, her fellow teammates think otherwise. Uppuluri can be seen as shy on one hand, but a worthy opponent on the other. 

“[Uppuluri] has always had that fiery, competitive thing about her which always made her a very strong tennis player,” said CHS 2020 graduate Aishwarya Kannan, who currently plays tennis for the University of Texas at Dallas. “She was also very competitive, and so it was always very fun to play her because I knew every time I [played] her, I [felt] like it was a challenge for her and me.” 

Coppell senior Riya Reddy has known Uppuluri since eighth grade when they played against each other representing Coppell Middle School East and Coppell Middle School West respectively. 

“She was very aggressive with all her shots, and she was overall a really good player,” Reddy said. “At first, I was a little intimidated because she was very good, but I got to know her better [and realized that] she is actually a very nice person, and she is also very supportive.” 

Coppell tennis player senior Rishita Uppuluri hits a forehand on Feb. 7 as a junior. Uppuluri values the relationships she has created during her four years on varsity tennis more than winning or losing. (Sally Parampottil)

Whenever events don’t go as planned, it is normal to experience a sense of nervousness and doubt one’s abilities; The very first time Uppuluri was going to play varsity tennis was an unexpected occurrence. 

“[Foster] put me in the [starting] line up, and I was playing doubles, and we won that doubles [with] a tie breaker,” Uppuluri said. “That was a good feeling because during tie breakers, your entire team is cheering for you. I got to show them  I am worthy of playing on varsity, because nobody expected [the coach to] put a freshman in the lineup.”

Uppuluri’s positive, impactful character, along with her tennis capabilities, have led to her attaining the position of co-captain this year. She thinks sportsmanship is an important quality. 

More importantly, Uppuluri values the relationships she has made over the course of four years on the tennis team. 

“Tennis means friendship to me because my best friends play tennis and I have known some of them for years and years, and I have made and fostered so many relationships,” Uppuluri said. “Once I leave – sure the matches and winning are important – but I will remember the memories I made rather than that one match I won or that one match I lost. It’s the people I will remember when I leave.”

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