Connecticut Senior Brings Positive Attitude to the Court
ROCKY HILL, CT - When Shumayl Shiek Syed hits the court, he always brings a winning mentality. The Kingswood Oxford School senior has trained at the Tennis & Fitness Center of Rocky Hill for the past seven years where he has competed on many Junior Team Tennis teams. He also plays for his high school’s varsity team and has entered his fair share of USTA tournaments.
While Shiek Syed enjoys winning as much as the next player, and he’s done his fair share of it, it’s his positive attitude that has earned him a great reputation. A consummate sportsman, Shiek Syed is known for putting his team first and treating his opponents with the utmost respect.
“Shumayl always makes fair line calls, often above and beyond fairness, giving his opponents calls that may seem close. Rather than calling it out, he gives them the benefit of the doubt. He cares about the team first and himself second, a good sport characteristic that all tennis players should possess,” said Angelo Rossetti, who has coached Shiek Syed for more than a year at Rocky Hill.
While Shiek Syed has shown tremendous character throughout his tennis career, he wasn’t officially recognized for his sportsmanship until last spring. Rocky Hill hosted a Northern Connecticut Junior Team Tennis event with a trip to the State Championship on the line, and Shiek Syed shined.
He went unbeaten throughout the tournament, helped his team earn a bid to States, was voted MVP and took home the team sportsmanship award.
“That was a really amazing experience, and I didn’t expect it. The coaches all voted on sportsmanship, and I remember walking out and getting complimented by a lot of them telling me I made great line calls and I was treating other players nicely all weekend,” Shiek Syed said. “Being a good sport is absolutely important and comes pretty naturally to me. I think it’s the combination of trying to always be a good person and then getting reminded of it by coaches every time I step on the court has made it come easy.”
Shiek Syed took the award and ran with it, and now expects even more from himself when he steps on the court.
“I have that same mentality playing high school tennis, but now that I’ve been recognized for being that kind of person, I strive to be better and will carry that into my senior season,” he said. “Having that attitude also means I have a lot of fun playing. I’m not as high strung and looking to win every single point, and that makes it a much more enjoyable experience for everyone.
Last summer, Shiek Syed tried his hand in something new – coaching. During his time at Rocky Hill, he gained valuable knowledge from his coaches as a student and as a volunteer teacher, guiding him in the right direction as a leader. He went on to teach 6 to 10-year-olds through Skyhawks, a national sports camp with a location in Rocky Hill, as a way to give back.
“Coaching was a lot different than volunteering. It was continuous hours of working with kids and trying to nail down concepts while teaching them about teamwork, integrity and respect, but it was something I wanted to do to give back to a community that has done so much for me,” Shiek Syed said. “It’s been the great coaches through the years at Rocky Hill that have made me the person and player I am today, and I’d like to thank them for holding themselves to a high standard every time they step on court.”
This year, while Shiek Syed is still training, he has made school and enjoying his senior year a priority. He’s deep into the college process and should make a decision by March, just in time for his final high school tennis season. He hopes to study architecture and play club tennis in college.