All-Area boys' tennis Player of the Year: Sunny Singh
CHAMPAIGN — If this tennis thing doesn't work out, Sunny Singh might have a future in software design.
Or making cell phone applications. Or designing video games. He might even become a doctor.
Put simply, the kid's got options.
Earlier this year, the Centennial freshman started a YouTube page under the alias "SunnyChopper" where he performs a comedy routine.
"I've only got six subscribers right now," he said.
He dabbles in designing applications for the iPhone and one day hopes to design his own video game.
"At this age, he knows how to program,' said Sunny's father Hardeep, a software engineer. "I just tell him about the concepts, but he figures out how to do the programming. I don't know how to do the programming for the iPhones and the iPads, but he knows how to do that."
Dad is proud his oldest son has taken a liking to computers, but he'd rather see Sunny take a different path.
"I think he should go into the medical field, but he likes computers," Hardeep Singh said.
Father and son might disagree right now on a career path, but they find common ground when it comes to tennis. It was Hardeep who first got Sunny to pick up a racket as a 7-year-old. And Sunny, who turns 15 today, has excelled on the court at the same rate he has when it comes to figuring out computers.
A member of a strong freshman class for Gordon Kay's Chargers, Singh ascended to the No. 1 singles spot during the season and won invitationals at Bloomington and Centennial before winning the Big 12 championship and a sectional title. He is The News-Gazette's boys' tennis Player of the Year.
"I was surprised a little bit. I had seen him hit before and he was a solid player," Kay said. "He took out (Kristiyan) Trukov from Gurnee Warren, who finished in the top 16, top 12 at state. That was pretty impressive."
Singh also knocked off Champaign Central's Austin Aten, the area Player of the Year in 2011 as a freshman.
"To step up and do that in a new arena during the high school season was good," Kay said. "He had some quality wins and not many bad losses."
With so much success during the early stages of a high school career, it begs the question: How good can Singh become?
His dream is to play for Brad Dancer, the UI coach whom Singh has known since he was 7.
"He's seen me grow up, I've known him a long time," Singh said.
"One time I took him to Atkins Tennis Center and Brad (gave him a tip) and he loved that so much," Hardeep Singh said. "Anything Brad says to him, he listens."
Kay sees the ability for Singh to one day achieve his dream but cautions there is a long way to go.
"He's as strong a freshman as I've ever seen around this area and he's got all the tools. His technique has no flaw in any of his strokes. He's got the frame. He definitely can play high Division I tennis down the road," Kay said.
Hardeep, a regular at Centennial matches with Sunny's brother Gunveer and sister Gurveena — 7-year-old twins — and mom Ravinder, said it's going to take a lot of work to see those tennis dreams become reality.
"He's talented, but he's not (consumed) by tennis. He plays for fun, plays for me," Hardeep said. "If you're talented enough, you can go to that level, but you have to work hard and practice. Then you can play. He does that, I'm not saying he doesn't practice a lot. He goes to Atkins and practices a few hours, but not too much right now."
Maybe one day we'll see Singh challenging for the title on the clay at the French Open. Or he'll be known for developing the next big iPhone application. Or he'll become a world-class doctor. He's got time to decide.
"One day, I'll figure it all out," he said.