Balraj Sangha: Mesa Olympians Tennis Number One


courtesy of Balraj Sangh

Balraj Sangh uses his fierce forehand

Balraj Sangh uses his fierce forehand (courtesy of Balraj Sangh)

Since the Mesa men’s tennis team’s season was cut short, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are no matches to play, so team Captain Balraj Sangha recalled a match last year against Grossmont College. 

Mesa hadn’t won against Grossmont for several years. He was playing a singles match on the home courts. He was down 5-4 in the first set, facing three points. Sangha, who is the number two singles player, was determined to hold on. After several more rallies, he won the set and the match 7-5, 6-1. Sangha was thrilled to finally beat Grossmont. 

Coach Marc Pinckney saw early on that Sangha’s forehand was strong and he helped to develop it into a fierce weapon. The coach has said that he has an aggressive forehand that he needs to control the point with. The combination of his forehand with his phenomenal serve and powerful two-handed backhand, is a large part of what makes Sangha a great tennis player. 

Third year student Sangha is in his second year of playing on the tennis team and also holds the position of number one doubles player. 

He was named captain of the team not just because he’s a tough competitor but because Coach Pinckney felt he had the qualities that it takes to lead a team. Sangha helps to guide the younger players, who learn so much from watching the older players. A captain always thinks of the team first. When the rest of the spring season was cancelled, Sangha was so disappointed for his younger teammates who won’t get to play and won’t have the opportunity to beat Grossmont again.   

When asked which professional tennis player Sangha would love to play against, he said it would have to be Roger Federer. “He has the most unique game in tennis today, fusing the finesse and touch shots that were popular in the past, with the power and athleticism that is used today.” Sangha explained.   

As well as being the second singles player on the team, Sangha is also a number one doubles player. One memorable doubles game this season, was stopped by two of the longest rain delays. Four and a half hours after the start of the match, Sangha and his partner finally outmaneuvered and overpowered the other team, and won.

There is no answer to when the quarantine orders will be lifted. According to Coach Pinckney it’s important to stay fit in the off-season. 

The players normal on-court practice keeps the Olympians fit along with weight training. Pinckney said fitness is the key to playing any sport. Since the teammates train together, it helps solidify their bond, it will take more commitment than ever to work out alone and stay conditioned. 

Sangha is working towards a career in mechanical engineering, and is planning on starting at UC Riverside in the fall, depending on the status of the pandemic. He’s played tennis since he was three, so despite the stay-at-home order in place right now, Sangha will always enjoy playing tennis.