Match Point: Get To Know Sonia Bokhari
April 2, 2013
Sonia Bokhari's dad has been her main coach since she started playing at age 8. Like other tennis players who are coached by a parent, Sonia says her dad took it seriously, but for her it was sometimes a mixed blessing - a kind of love-hate relationship. These days, the pressure is off a little bit, since when she's home in New Jersey in the summer, her dad spends more time with her brother, who is 15.
At UMass, where she transferred after a year at Louisville, she has little time for anything except tennis and her studies as an economics major. Tennis was the main reason she came to UMass. "I met and liked the team. They were a good fit for me, a really nice, funny group," she says. On the court, she plays at number 1 and 2 interchangeably, depending on which school they are playing. Although she plays doubles, she prefers singles, describing herself as aggressive on the court, liking to play at the baseline with a strong, flat forehand.
One thing she makes sure to find time for is the Muslim Student Association, where she goes every Friday to pray at the Campus Center. Her family, who came from Pakistan before she was born, keep her in touch with their traditions and culture. During her early years she traveled to visit family in Lahore regularly. She speaks several of the languages of that country - Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi - as well as Spanish, which she studied in school. Her economics major, she hopes, will lead to a job in investment banking. She likes the banking world and enjoys New York City, where so much of it happens.
Sonia works hard to stay fit, a regimen which includes all of the team's practices and conditioning sessions. She also tries to eat right. On the day she was interviewed, for instance, she'd had brown rice, pesto chicken, a salad of celery, carrots and spinach for lunch." She tries to eat two or three hours before any match. But even more important for her is sleep. "That affects me more than food," she says. "I really need seven or eight hours or I get zombie-like."
Coach Judy Dixon says, "Sonia has the cleanest strokes on the team and hits a hard flat ball. She tries to play calmly as is her nature, but she actually does best when she plays with fire. Then she would like to drill her opponents with the ball." Like all successful competitors, Sonia hates to lose.