Rahul Ravi used to wear his heart on his sleeve.
When he was stressed, it was obvious and it impacted his performance.
Now a two-time Section V champion, and one of the local favorites appearing in the state tennis tournament this week, Brighton’s top singles player has come a long way since he began working on his mental fitness.
“I’ve been coaching different sports in Brighton for almost 30 years, and Rahul is one of the hardest working athletes I’ve had the privilege of coaching,” Brighton coach Steve Falter said.
Ravi earned his state slot after a semifinals appearance at state qualifiers.
Falter said Ravi sought counseling from teammate Elliot Raynor’s father, Douglas, a clinical psychologist, after the loss. Ravi improved his play after that meeting, winning his last five matches to lead Brighton to a team title.
“That’s been the turning point of Rahul’s season,” Falter said.
The only setbacks on the senior’s 12-2 marks are to fellow state-qualifiers Drew Fishback and Brady Thyroff — he’d avenge his lost to the latter.
Ravi leads by example, practicing four times a week outside of school practices. A singles and doubles section champ over his career, Ravi will play at the University of Rochester upon graduation.
What’s at state?
Ravi is one of 10 boys who will represent Section V at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Boys Tennis Championships.
Matches run from Thursday through Saturday at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens.
Ravi, Geneva’s Drew FishbackPittsford Sutherland’s Brady Thyroff and Penfield’s Nathan Hart will participate in the 32-player singles tournament.
Pittsford Sutherland coach Joe Thyroff, a former state chair who still regularly attends the NYSPHSAA tournament, said he is high on fishback and his family’s tennis pedigree. Drew’s older brother Ryan is a former state champ who’s now at Virginia Tech.
Just a freshman, Class B1 singles champion Drew Fishback is 18-0 and has won all 36 possible sets.
“I’m told Drew eats and sleeps tennis. He’s always playing and loves the game,” coach Thyroff said. “He’s just a marvelous player. He’s on my list to win the state tournament one day like his brother did.”
More:Meet the 2021 All-Greater Rochester Boys Tennis Team
Brighton duo Elliot Raynor and Eitan FayPittsford Mendon pair Kevin Mortimer and Imad Shaheed and Pittsford Sutherland tandem Dylan Bhatia/Charlie Thyroff are headed to states.
A2 doubles champion Charlie Thyroff and his older brother, section champion Brady Thyroff, were crowned 33 years after their father and uncle won Section V titles.
Brighton won the first Section V Division I team title over the weekend, edging previously unbeaten Pittsford Sutherland 4-3 on Sunday..
Pittsford Sutherland fell to 15-1
Next, the Bruins (14-1) will play Section VI’s Williamsville East in the Far West Regionals at 12:30 pm Tuesday, June 7, at Honeoye Falls-Lima. Winner gets a final four spot at the state championships, Friday, June 10. Coach Falter guided Brighton’s girls team to a Section V title and state tournament appearance in the fall.
“It’s always good for the younger kids to see that there’s always bigger fish. I’m just so happy for them. They deserve it,” Falter said.
Brighton is one win away from a team trip to play where pros like Serena Williams and Andre Agassi competed.
“Our kids are playing on a court some of these people played on. That’s what’s exciting about it, and that’s what was so disappointing for us, because we coach had a chance to go back as a team,” Sutherland Thyroff said.
Freshman duo Evan Hoefen and Ziv Rapoport clinched Sunday’s final at third doubles. Raynor handed Charlie Thyroff (22-2) his second singles loss, and Ravi beat previously unbeaten Brady Thyroffwho retired in the second set.
Brighton felt like it had nothing to lose as the underdogs.
“It’s been a great ride. We’re peaking at the right time. The goal was to always at least make it to this point,” Falter said.
Inclement weather moved the Division II championship between Oakfield-Alabama and Naples to Thursday.
Section V boys tennis champions
Class A1: Rahul Ravi (Brighton); A2: Brady Thyroff (Sutherland); B1: Drew Fishback (Geneva); B2: Mitchell Hockey (LeRoy); B3: Cavan Bennage (Holley); B4: Eben Schilke (Fillmore).
Class A1: Elliot Raynor/Eitan Fay (Brighton); A2: Dylan Bhatia/Charlie Thyroff (Sutherland); B1: Gus Landt/Peter Burslem (Honooye Falls-Lima); B2: JJ Wanek/Lukas Crane (North Rose-Wolcott); B3: Tristan Tiede/William Van Wyk (York); B4: Matt Lincoln/Landon Gleichauf (Naples)
Class A1: Brighton; A2: Pittsford Sutherland; B2: LeRoy; B3: Honeoye Fall-Lima; B4: Naples.
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