A Hometown Tennis Phenom
If you haven't heard of Natasha Subhash, you will.
Thwack. The yellow ball zips over the net toward Natasha Subhash. Thwack. With a vicious swing, she returns the volley. The ball bounces on the court and past her opponent.
Point, Subhash. Normally even-keeled, she pumps her fist.
This year’s Citi Open—the annual hometown professional tennis tournament in Rock Creek Park—features several local players, but none as young as Subhash. Considered one of the best junior tennis players in the world, the 16-year-old rising senior at Falls Church High School trains at the 4 Star Tennis Academy in McLean. She’s played (as a junior) at Wimbledon, the French Open, the Australian Open, and the US Open, but this week was special. It was her Citi Open debut, and a chance to play in front of friends and family.
Currently ranked 44th in the world on the junior circuit, she lost the qualifying match on Saturday afternoon and her doubles match on Tuesday. But those setbacks didn’t dampen her Citi Open experience. “Being able to play in a tournament that I’ve been able to watch for a long time… it’s amazing,” says the teen. “It was great to have so many people cheering [for me].”
Subhash’s talent was apparent from an early age, says her father, Subhash Kongassery, who immigrated to the U.S. from India with Natasha’s mother, Sulekha Subhash, in 1997. Natasha was born a few years later. “When she was four, I used to feed her [tennis] balls in the basement and she had really good hand-eye coordination,” he says. That’s when they enrolled her in the academy.
Now a rising senior at Falls Church High School, she takes classes online (through Fairfax County Public Schools), spending most of her days practicing, competing and traveling for tournaments. “Natasha is one-of-a-kind,” says her coach, Bear Schofield, a Langley High School alum and local tennis standout in the mid-1990s. “She’s really worked hard for everything. She’s very focused and goes after what she wants.”
Subhash says she likes the challenge of an individual sport where the player has “total control.”
“You don’t have to rely on anyone else,” she says, “You have to rely on yourself.”
What does the future hold for the rising star? She’s already made a commitment to attend (and play for) the University of Virginia in the fall of 2019.
But in the meantime, she’s got senior year to look forward to—and several upcoming tournaments, including the US Open Juniors in September.