National Junior Scholar Athlete Award Recipient:
September 18, 2019
Niraj Komatineni of Mason, Ohio was named one of the recipients of the 2019 USTA National Junior Scholar Athlete Award, honoring high school tennis players who best demonstrate that tennis is a sport of opportunity for education, advancement and character development. Komatineni was honored at the USTA semiannual meeting at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City on September 2.
Komatineni first began playing tennis at an early age. Throughout his childhood, Komatineni split his time between soccer and tennis but finally decided to commit himself to tennis going into high school.
"I chose tennis over soccer at that point because I enjoyed the individuality that tennis brought, but at the same time, I enjoyed how many different people you could meet traveling and playing tournaments," said Komatineni.ADVERTISEMENT
As Komatineni developed his skills throughout his high school career, he realized tennis could take him to new heights and loved the feeling of challenging himself in the sport.
"Tennis, to me, also felt like there was more of a direct correlation between the work that you put in and the results you get out," said Komatineni. "In some other sports you need a lot of stars to align in order to stand out, like your coach needs to play you, your coach needs to like you, or you need to get along with your teammates to win big games to get national exposure.
"In tennis you play for yourself and your results dictate how much success you have and how far you can rise in the junior totem pole."
Komatineni graduated from Mason High School and is in the top 50 in the USTA Boys’ 18 National Rankings and is the third-highest ranked player from the USTA/Midwest Section. A three-year captain of his high school tennis team, he has won numerous sportsmanship awards and was named the Greater Cincinnati Tennis Coaches Association Player of the Year three consecutive years. He was also honored in 2018 as a Spectrum Ohio Scholar Athlete.
Now a freshman at Brown University, Komatineni is a part of the men's tennis team while also majoring in applied mathematics economics. Komatineni says the key to his success in college on and off the court is effective time management and determination.
"It all boils down to what you’re willing to put in; you won’t always be able to excel in school, excel on the court and excel in your social life," said Komatineni. "There’s always a give and take. Being able to effectively manage your time is crucial. You have to have your priorities straight before you embark on the journey."
This is the eighth year the USTA has awarded its National Junior Scholar Athlete award. To qualify, students must have an unweighted GPA of 3.75 on a 4.0 scale and be ranked in the Top 100 of the USTA Boys’ or Girls’ 18s national standings. A written essay, as well as leadership and sportsmanship, were also considered.
"It’s such an honor to be named a National Scholar Athlete," said Komatineni. "The people in the past who have received this award are all incredible people and tennis players.
"It feels amazing to be put into the same category as them. It also reassures me that hard work pays off."