Photo by Carissa Mosley
All the way from Pune, India, senior Rakshay Thakkar stands as one of the pillars of experience beneath the Waves’ young men’s tennis team. He is indispensible within the squad, starting all the games in the season thus far. Thakkar is 5 feet 9 inches and although that doesn’t seem like much for a tennis player, the international student from India has shown the fans why he is one of head coach Marcelo Ferreira’s top choices. Out of the Waves’ eight games so far, Thakkar came out triumphant in four of them. When he lost, Thakkar proved a tough nut to crack and only yielded in the third set.
“Having Rakshay as a teammate is great. You couldn’t ask for anyone better. He cares for everyone on the team,” said sophomore teammate Tom Hill. “I’ve known Rakshay for a long time, even before Pepperdine, and although he constantly rips my hair style, he’s great!”
Thakkar transferred to Pepperdine at the beginning of his junior year. Before that, he attended Symbiosis College of Arts and Commerce in Pune. His passion for tennis is what brought him to Pepperdine, urging Thakkar to excel in the sport.
“I was looking to play college tennis so I just wrote to a lot of top colleges and their coaches to see if I could transfer,” Thakkar said. “Then I started talking to the then-Pepperdine coach, Adam Steinberg, and he was interested, and I liked the college, so it all worked out.”
Thakkar started playing tennis when he was just seven years old and by the time he reached 14, Thakkar was one of the best eight players in Asia.
“I just started playing the sport at one of the local clubs. I am a member of that club, so I just started it for fun by playing the local tournaments,” Thakkar said. “Until I was 12 or 13, I was just playing tennis because I was doing well, but then I started getting serious when I was 14, playing more competitive tournaments internationally.”
His dedication to tennis paid off. By the time Thakkar was 18, he was top 100 in the world in Juniors (18 and under). According to Thakkar, No. 98 was his top ranking. Thakkar, unlike many college tennis players, possesses a professional record as well. He is ranked under the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) with three ATP points and Thakkar’s highest worldwide ranking was 1301.
As a Manchester United fan, Thakkar also enjoys soccer — his favorite sport after tennis. He can often be seen playing pickup soccer at the alumni field with the rest of the tennis team.
Thakkar is an Economics major and said his priority is to get work in the fields of either finance or real estate.
“I want to work in America for a couple of years before going to graduate school,” he said.
Coping with a Division I sport in itself can be a challenge. Now imagine trying to keep up the good grades on top of that, not to mention doing all of this in a foreign country. These are challenges that do not seem to overwhelm him. Whether in the classroom or on the court, Thakkar is an exceptional student. In addition to starting every single match for the Waves this season, he boasts a solid 3.6 GPA.
When asked about his future with tennis, he expressed his interest to keep playing, but recognizes it will be difficult.
“I want to play tennis some way or another,” Thakkar said. “It means pretty much everything to me. I’ve been playing since I was 7, so I know nothing else.”
Be it with tennis or economics, Thakkar has made his mark here in Malibu.
Follow Anthony Wells on Twitter: @anthonyawells