Eastside Prep’s Kumar swings his way to state tournament

Bellevue resident trains at Eastside Tennis Center in Kirkland.

Amar Kumar’s inaugural showing at the state singles tennis tournament may be five months away, but the Eastside Prep of Kirkland freshman continues to diligently work on his game to prepare for the big stage.

He trains in the high-performance program at the Eastside Tennis Center in Kirkland three to four times a week, competes in tournaments and engages in practice matches with friends.

“He’s had a passion for tennis since he was really young,” said Arti Kumar, Amar’s mother. “He’s very dedicated, 5 or 6 a.m., no matter what, he’ll get up and go, take him to practice or to the tournaments.”

When the Bellevue family was on vacation in Mexico and India, Amar looked for tournaments, and if there weren’t any on tap, he’d get in some practice on an available court.

One of Amar’s goals is to get his lefty serve zooming as hard as possible when the 1B/2B/1A state tourney rolls around on May 29-30 at the Yakima Tennis Club.

Kumar, 14, amassed a 14-2 No. 1 singles record last fall in 1A Emerald City League action and finished second at districts to earn one of the three league spots to state.

“I felt pretty confident going in. I also knew a couple of people, so that made the matches interesting. One of my friends, one time I played him and beat him in a tiebreak, and then he beat me in a tiebreak,” Kumar said.

Eight years ago at the Pro Club in Bellevue, Kumar’s dad signed him up for tennis classes and the youngster found the sport to be fun from the get-go. Today, he continues to enjoy running, hitting balls and implementing new tactics.

“You have to be in a good mental, positive state to win matches,” said Kumar, who tries to avoid the negativity he witnesses with some other players.

Kumar feels he delivers strong groundstrokes, thriving as a baseline attacker and when knocking volleys at the net.

Over the years, Kumar has succeeded on the advanced tournament scene, notching titles in the U12 and U14 divisions and now making his mark on the U16 circuit.

The Reporter asked Kumar a series of questions to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into his life:

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

One is never give up. It may seem like a common one, but when you take it to heart, you have to just make sure you keep it with you. I have a tennis journal, so I just wrote that. It’s helped me in a lot of matches. (In one match at age 10, he was down 7-2 in one set and won 9-7, and recently he had another crucial comeback win.) For my coach Russ (Bucklin) for the school team, he also says, “Competing is about whoever’s best on that day.” That’s very true I’ve come to realize.

What’s your favorite move of all time?

“Avengers” or “Star Wars.”

What super power would you like to have?

To be able to teleport just to get places faster.

If you could go to dinner with one person, who would that be?

Rafael Nadal. He’s very driven and focused, which I admire.

What’s your favorite subject in school?

I really enjoy math, especially right now, we’re learning about quadratics.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

In tennis, this happens frequently in matches, when the ball hits the net cord and goes just over. It’s so annoying. You can’t do anything about it. Sometimes you can try, I’ve tried running for it before, ‘cause the ball, it just stops and goes over. I’m like, “Are you kidding me?” But when it happens (for) you, it’s fine… everyone says, “Sorry.”

Do you have any hobbies outside of tennis?

I really like art and drawing. I’ve drawn a lot of animals and I’ve sold them at a farmers market in Redmond. I’m working on digital art right now, that’s pretty interesting.

What’s your dream vacation spot?

I really want to see Wimbledon in England. I also like Manchester United, so I could also see a match.

What’s your favorite restaurant in the area?

I like Italian, so Tutta Bella or Olive Garden. I like pasta and pizza.