ORLANDO, Fla. -- Nisha Bhuva has played tennis her entire life.
The co-captain of the Northwestern club tennis team started playing Junior Team Tennis (JTT) in Brentwood, Tenn., when she was 9 years old. When she became too old to compete in JTT events, she completed her QuickStart Tennis certification and, when she turned 16 years old, started working with youngsters in her town.
“I taught underprivileged young children, giving a couple lessons each week on the same courts where I played my JTT matches,” Bhuva said. “It was like coming full circle, passing tennis on to new children and teaching children with the same people I grew up playing with.”
At 19, Bhuva became a USTA umpire and started volunteering at the same junior tournaments in which she played as a teenager. When it was time to attend college, joining a club tennis team was a natural fit.
“It was such a big part of my life growing up,” Bhuva said. “I would feel like something was missing if I didn’t continue playing.“Even before I knew about Tennis On Campus, I was looking for people in school to hit with. I’d go to the courts right across the street from where I lived, so when I heard about the club tennis team, of course I wanted to join. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
”In addition to staying active, club tennis helped Bhuva make new friends and connections that helped her in her academics. The 21-year-old is working toward a double major in industrial engineering and economics.
When she first joined the team, its president that year was a senior with the same major who gave her advice on class selection and internship programs.As co-president this season, Bhuva is now doing the same thing, working with the freshmen and sophomores and offering help and advice, just as her former captain did for her.“
It ties everything back to when I was younger, helping young kids through tennis and now, as co-president of the club tennis team, helping the other members of my team. In club tennis at Northwestern, our aim is to get people through their love for the sport and then keep them by providing social opportunities on and off the court. You come for the love of tennis and leave as part of a team.”
The club has more than 100 active members, and Bhuva is attending Nationals for the third time.
Northwestern went 1-2 in pool play on Day 1 of the Tennis On Campus National Championship on Wednesday, defeating Penn State University in a super tiebreak, 25-24, before losing to North Carolina, 22-20, and Yale, 25-24, in a pair of equally tight contests.
That advances the Wildcats to the bronze bracket, where they’ll start play Friday against Villanova.
Win or lose, Bhuva and the Wildcats are having a blast at the USTA National Campus. These memories will stay with her long after she graduates, reminding her of how team tennis fueled her love for the sport in the beginning.
“For me, tennis was not just a sport; it was so much more than that,” Bhuva said. “It was a way to spend time with family and make new friends.
“One of my favorite memories was when our team qualified for the Junior Team Tennis state finals in Chattanooga and our families all drove down in cars together. We were one game away from qualifying for the next level, but we lost. After, we all went out to a restaurant and sat at a big table. Even though we lost, everyone was laughing and talking and having fun. It was such a great bonding experience. That went beyond tennis.”