Naveen Nemalapuri Senior Profile

Naveen Nemalapuri's senior night poster.

All Photos Taken By Bo Stead

 Naveen Nemalapuri, a senior this year at Malden High, is one of the proudest parts of Malden Athletics, as he is one of the top tennis players in the entire state of Massachusetts. Nemalapuri, at the time of writing of this article, is ranked as the fifth best player in the state and the 16th best in New England. Nemalapuri attributes his success to some of his core values. He described them as “Hard working, Disciplined, and Passionate: those three things are what got me to where I am now.” He elaborated on this, noting each aspect. “I put in a lot of hard work on the courts, being as intense as possible.”

He continued: “The discipline of consistent training and the long nights I had at Amerige Park till 10 pm hitting serves.” He concluded, “Lastly, passion. If I didn't love the sport, I would not be at the level I am. Passion is what drove me to keep playing and practicing for hours. I loved the sport too much, I didn't want to get off the court and wanted to get better each day.”

Many student athletes who perform at as high of a level as Nemalapuri, being ranked nationally, face a sort of pressure when it comes to playing the sports they love. However, through the years of being in the spotlight, Nemalapuri has felt, “The pressure is always there because you don't want to lose to someone who is ranked lower than you. It doesn't really affect me when I am on the court. Every match is something new and a different scenario that's gonna take place.”

Being a senior, Nemalapuri is part of the class which perhaps had their high school careers most effected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The seniors had half a freshman year, a remote sophomore year, and junior and senior years were as close to normal as possible. But this did not stop Nemalapuri from having a memorable high school experience at Malden High.

Nemalapuri’s first time playing tennis, he recalls being at the park, while watching his father play tennis with his friends. Nemalapuri had wanted to play, so his father gave him a junior tennis racquet. Nemalapuri stated “I really fell in love after my first time playing”. 

Naveen Nemalapuri warms up for his singles match.

While tennis around the country may not be as popular as some other high school sports, Nemalapuri believes tennis has a beauty about it because it is so unique. “To play at a high level you need to use your mind and physical ability.” Nemalapuri also noted that tennis is “predominantly an individual sport - you're out on the court all by yourself. At then end of the day it comes down to can you fight through those mental and physical battles.”

When asked who his biggest inspiration growing up has been, Nemalapuri was quick to answer his parents. Nemalapuri stated “They have taught me so much and I want to be able to live life like them. They have taught me how to be happy and make others happy.” He especially thanks his Dad for “Driving me to all my tournaments and teaching me lessons to use throughout life.”

Growing up, Nemalapuri also looked up to Roger Federer: “I have always loved how effortless Roger seemed on the court. Being an all-around player, I tried to be like him when I was growing up. He can pull off some of the most insane shots. Sometimes he's just flawless.” expressed Nemalapuri.

Perhaps what people love most about youth sports is the bonds you make along the way and the lifetime friends you gain from connecting through your sport. When talking about these friendships, Nemalapuri said,  “My favorite bond that I have made playing tennis is definitely one of my best friends Alek Karagozyan. He is also my co-host for my podcast. I met him when I was 12 and we have been playing tennis together and against each other for the past 7 years. It has been an amazing rivalry but also a friendship. My family and his family get along very well, as well.  It is amazing to see how our tennis levels have advanced throughout the years.”

Nemalapuri’s podcast, Racket Boys, was made when “I and my friend got together, and with the passion we both had for tennis, we decided it would be nice to talk about it with our friends. I loved the idea of sharing my knowledge and view on the ongoing events in the sports world.”

Seniors and coaches following the ceremony. Left to right: Brian Sou, Palgon Tsering, Henry Zhao, Naveen Nemalapuri, Wilson Jiang, Edmond Chen, Alexander Goon and David Flores.

Malden High’s tennis program has been very honored and lucky to have such a skilled player on their team. Nemalapuri is also grateful for being able to be part of the tennis program. “MHS tennis has been a great experience for me. I am so thankful for having the opportunity to be part of such a great team of coaches and students. I am very grateful to Mr. Conefrey for taking me in 7th grade and giving me the chance to play on the team. Coach Mark Gagnon has been amazing to me and I have learned so much of life and tennis from him”

For some time, Nemalapuri received schooling through a tennis academy. He explained at the beginning it was “very different, not something I was used to. It was a lot of tennis and training.” This smoothed out as Naveen spent some time there, he noted. “I had a great support group of coaches around me to guide me through the academy. The training was tough and tiring but with such great friends and support around you, you could not give up.”

Nemalapuri is going to the University of Massachusetts Boston, where he plans on redshirting his first year of tennis and majoring in Business Management. 

Naveen Nemalapuri honored for his efforts.

Nemalapuri believes that the adult which he grew closest to during his time at malden high was Brian Sou, who is also his tennis coach. Nemalapuri noted, “Coach Brian Sou has given me insight into the things I can learn from tennis and also from life as a whole. The team has been amazing in all my years at MHS. I have enjoyed being a 7th grader all the way to being a senior on the team. I am very glad to say the MHS tennis team is my other family. We get along so well with each other.”

Sou stated, “Naveen has an amazing work ethic, coaching Naveen has been a pleasure, even with his skill level - he is very teachable and coachable. He is very open-minded to what I have to offer.” Sou, having seen Naveen through a coaches perspective, also expressed that “coaching Naveen has been a pleasure, even with his skill level - he is very teachable and coachable. He is very open-minded to what I have to offer.” and described him as being “Kind, understanding, compassionate, “ 

Head Coach Gagnon wanted to stress that Naveen “changed the culture of MHS Tennis. I have never had an athlete have that type of an influence over a whole team like he did.” Gagnon believes Naveen “makes working hard an expectation”. Gagnon recalled, “My best memory of Naveen is watching a sixth grader pick up a tennis racket and totally dominate any other player he played… he just has that “it” quality everyone loves”

Sophomore Kyle Huang who is on the tennis team noted “Naveen is very open and cares about everyone. He is the best mentor I have ever had for tennis.”

Sophomore Satvir Singh who played both varsity and JV tennis this year remarked, “Naveen as a mentor/coach since he is an incredible tennis player and to just have the guidance there from someone so good at the sport is nice and reassuring. He is basically another coach for the team, and to think that someone on the team can coach their own teammates just tells you all you need to know about this man.”

Left to right: Kenton Nguyen, Naveen Nemalapuri, and Gordon Zeng share a moment after the match.

Overall there is a consensus that Nemalapuri is one of the best people to know on and off the tennis court. While he continues on to the next chapter of his life, he will continue to learn from his experiences at MHS.

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