Senior Spotlight: Bedi hoped to lead Sewickley Academy tennis on one final title run

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Sunday, May 3, 2020 | 10:48 PM


Editor’s note: Each day, Trib HSSN will spotlight WPIAL spring athletes whose senior years were cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.

After dominating WPIAL Class AA for years, the Sewickley Academy boys tennis team tested its mettle in Class AAA in 2019.

Leading last year’s charge was Arjan Bedi, who returned this spring with his sights set on lifting the Panthers to a deeper run at the WPIAL team tournament — they fell in the first round last year (Upper St. Clair, 3-2) — and also making another charge at a WPIAL singles title.

“I think all of us really stepped up to it last year and adapted,” Bedi said. “Come the WPIAL playoffs, we really played our hearts out. This year, we were really ready to make something happen.

“I loved (the WPIAL singles) tournament. We all know each other. It’s a great challenge because of that. It brought out the best of us.”

Bedi began his varsity career with third-place finishes at both the WPIAL and PIAA Class AA doubles tournaments. A year later, as a sophomore, he captured the WPIAL Class AA singles crown and made a run to the state semifinals.

Last year, he advanced to the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals before falling to Allderdice’s David Missry, a friend and training partner at Rashid Hassan’s tennis academy at Edgewood Country Club in Churchill.

“We’re really close,” said Bedi, who rebounded from the semifinal loss to win the consolation final and advance to states. “Whenever we play, it’s really fun.”

Bedi, who will play tennis in college at Carnegie Mellon and major in information systems, said he values the opportunity to train with Hassan.

“Rashid has taken my game to the next level,” Bedi said. “He’s always taught me to play to my strengths and do things I never thought I could do.”

What is your best memory of playing tennis at Sewickley Academy?

I think that would be my freshman WPIAL doubles tournament with my partner Nishant (Purewall). We weren’t that great when we first started playing together, but by the end, we kept improving. We got third place at states and had match point in the semifinals. Reflecting on that, we had such a good time together.

What is one of your best memories as a sports fan?

I would say Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s match at the Australian Open in 2017 (a five-set battle won by Federer). There is just so much respect between the two players. Having everything come together like that made it an epic sports moment.

Who do you consider a tennis influence?

People have told me I play the most like Federer because I come to the net a lot, I volley, and I am really aggressive. I think a lot of coaches early on pushed me to be more aggressive with my game. I started watching TV, and then I saw this player doing the things I was taught to do. He just became a role model for me.

How did you get connected with Carnegie Mellon as your college of choice?

I met the Carnegie Mellon (tennis) coach, Mike Belmonte, at the (USTA National Clay Court Championships) at Delray Beach (Fla.). We started talking. He really liked the way I play. Everything kind of fell into place with tennis and also academically.

Is there anything you’ve picked up or started doing more during the past month and a half of stay-at-home orders?

I really enjoy playing the piano. It’s something I’ve done for a long time and something I’ve been able to spend time on more recently. I’ve also been trying to compose more.

What style of music do you favor in playing and composing?

I’m trained as a classical pianist, but I write in a more modern style. I think some of my influences come from (Frederic) Chopin, (Johann Sebastian) Bach for sure, (Claude) Debussy and a little bit of (Bela) Bartok. I take those influence and mix it with a modern style.

How did you get started in piano?

I always wanted to play the guitar as a kid, but I was told I was too young. But in the meantime, I could play the piano. I found a teacher who really inspired me, and I kept on doing it. With piano, and tennis, I enjoyed them so much, and I kept working really hard. Over time, I just got better.

Have you performed in front of an audience?

I like to perform in front of my friends, and I’ve done some school performances. I was planning to do a big concert for my senior project as a culmination of everything I had learned. Now, I think we might have to modify it because people will not be able to come and see it. Maybe I’ll do something like a virtual concert online.

If you could pick anyone to give a commencement speech at your graduation, who would it be and why?

I would have Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick in character) give the speech. (“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”) is one of my favorite movies. I’ve seen it 10 to 12 times. I find out that his personality is something to learn from.

If you were asked to give a speech, what advice would you give to underclassmen?

Do what you want, seize your freedom and follow your dreams.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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