It wasn't always tennis for Mount Greylock's Rohan Shastri.
"I was a pretty good baseball player," he said. "Maybe the best pitcher in fifth grade, maybe because I played a lot of cricket when I lived in India.
"And, I was a decent soccer player. I played on the fifth and sixth grade travel team. I scored a lot of goals, but that was because [present Greylock tennis teammate] Nathan Majumder was an unbelievable soccer player. He and his brother Jonah [also a teammate on the tennis team] got me the ball a lot."
But these days, Shastri is focused on tennis. The affable Greylock senior remained unbeaten this season with a win over rival Tanner DeVarennes of Lee. He also earned a No. 1 seeding in the Western Mass. Individual Tennis Tournament this week.
That culminated in Shastri being named The Eagle's Player of the Week on Sunday.
The top-seeded Shastri is favored to win the sectional individual title. But, he said, he is, first and foremost, a team player.
"I love it," he said of playing on the Mountie tennis team. "We're all focused together on winning Western Mass., on winning the state title.
"In that aspect, my focus is still the same," he said. "I take no point for granted and no match for granted. But it's a lot of fun."
Shastri began playing tennis as a five-year-old. He recalled his father feeding him balls and he would hit them off the side of his house in India. When he and his family moved to the United States several years ago, Shastri admitted that he actually didn't play much tennis for two solid years, in large part because he was unfamiliar with the local tennis clubs.
But when he took it up again in seventh grade, Shastri was clearly a natural. By the time he was in eighth grade, he was one of the better tennis players in Western Massachusetts (He was referred in several Eagle stories as "Greylock's tennis phenom.").
He began playing in the United States Tennis Association's junior circuit as a freshman. and continued his rise as one of the best tennis players in New England.
All well and good, and Shastri enjoyed the experience, for the most part. But he missed playing with his friends in Williamstown. And frankly? Playing the same opponents in the same venues was getting a little old.
"The USTA is really an individual sport," he said. "And you're seeing the same people over and over again, in the same places."
Now, he said, he's playing on a team, aspiring with his fellow athletes to team goals. It is, he said, a more comfortable fit for a kid who played soccer and baseball in the U.S. before he resumed tennis. And that has made all the difference.
Shastri added that he has also become a big football fan. Was it the three consecutive Western Mass. crowns won by his school?
Possibly, but Shastri admitted that he joined a fantasy football league last year.
"Oh man," he said with a laugh. "I was hooked. I was on the computer all the time."
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