Hometown: Hyderabad, India
Singles Record: 40-13 // 33-10 Dual Match // 15-2 SEC
Doubles Record: 20-9 // 18-8 Dual Match // 5-6 SEC
• 2015 All-SEC Second Team
• 2015 SEC Championship All-Tournament Team
What do French, German and Indian student athletes all have in common? At Mississippi State, they’re all members of the Bulldog men’s tennis team, bringing a variety of international cultures together on the court.
Students hail from Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, England, France, Germany, India and Sweden, and that’s part of what makes the team unique in the Southeastern Conference.
Rishab Agarwal, a sophomore business administration major and MSU tennis player, says fans can expect to see a blend of culture and competitiveness at matches.
“We try to involve the crowd and make it fun for our fans, as well as share a bit of who we are,” said Agarwal.
All players on the team are a long way from where they grew up and are making Starkville their second home. Originally from the bustling city of Hyderabad, India, Agarwal says Starkville has a much different atmosphere from his native Asia.
“It’s quieter, much more chill and laid back here,” said Agarwal. “I really like that.”
However, Agarwal is quick to say the thing he misses most is his mom’s cooking. Traditional Indian food is what he wishes he could have more of in Starkville, but with his busy schedule as a fulltime student athlete, he does, however, manage to make it home to see his family a couple times a year.
Playing tennis from the young age of five, he has a tennis-filled dream he’s planning to pursue once his business degree is in hand. He has his sights set on becoming a professional player.
“Tennis is a gentleman’s sport. Not a lot of physicality or contact injury, but it requires a person to be tough mentally as well as physically,” Agarwal said. “There is a lot of strategy involved also.”
If given the option, Agarwal prefers singles matches and says his strength on the court is knowing his opponent.
“I’m not a big hitter, so to overpower the other guy––strategy is key.”
Mentally strong on the court and in the classroom, Agarwal currently maintains a 4.0 GPA with his busy tournament schedule.
In preparation for a match, he says he likes to take five minutes to sit quietly and get focused before going out to play. Physical training is only part of the preparation required; Agarwal also leans on his team.
While the team is young and diverse culturally, they have a sense of community that is special, he said. More than wins and losses bind them together—it is the love of the game that keeps them going together as a team and individually as young men.
“We are from all over, but we are all here for tennis,” he said.