Rice Tennis junior Sumit Sarkar fought through injuries and still managed a productive season. The future remains bright for the Owls’ ace.
Sumit Sarkar had been a rock for the program since he arrived in the spring of 2018. During his freshman season, he recorded the only singles win by a Rice tennis player over a ranked opponent. As a sophomore, he was named C-USA Men’s Player of the Year, the first Rice player to receive that distinction since Bruno Rosa in 2010. The 2019-2020 season was supposed to be a springboard for future success, but things never quite materialized.
The summer started off well for Sarkar. Following the NCAA Tournament, he played a number of international events that ran into July. Then a late-summer injury altered the course of his Rice season. He rehabbed in August and played in a few national tournaments, but he wasn’t back to playing at his best. Winning matches is hard enough when healthy.
Sarkar fought through it and found some success, going 6-3 from the top spot in the lineup during the season. But according to coach Efe Ustendag, Sarkar was never quite back to 100 percent.
Adjustments and improvements to his game which the two had hoped to work on this year were tabled. The 2019-2020 season became solely about getting him back onto the court and healthy, somewhat stunting any developmental goals he might have had for himself.
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Ironically, his healthiest stretch of the season came as the campaign itself was halted. “He’s healthy right now,” Ustendag said with a laugh. “But we’re just sitting.”
When the season ended he stayed in Houston to finish the semester, looking forward to an opportunity to get back to tennis. Sarkar will be back on the court soon enough. When that will be remains to be seen, but his impact on the team will be the same, greater even, with more than enough time to recover.
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