Rajeev Ram has been quite familiar with Nishesh Basavareddy for a number of years.
Not only do they have common backgrounds, both being Carmel High School graduates with parents from India, but they share the same tennis coach in Bryan Smith.
In fact, Ram – an ATP touring pro — has hit quite a bit with Basavareddy the last few years.
So, when Ram decided to help host the ATP Challenger Tour’s Rajeev Ram Foundation Indy Challenger this year, Basavareddy was an obvious candidate for a wild card entry. After all, the 2022 CHS graduate is ranked No. 6 in the World Tennis Tour Junior Rankings and is headed to Stanford University this fall.
In his opening match July 19 at the Pearson Automotive Tennis Club in Zionsville, Nishesh Basavareddy showed he belonged with a narrow loss to No. 1 seed Peter Gojowczyk, 7-6 (6-4), 7-6 (6-3). The 33-year-old German is ranked No. 93 in singles on the tour.
Ram, ranked No. 2 in the ATP Tour in doubles at age 38, said it was all about the experience for Basavareddy.
“He’s not played a tournament at this level, and Peter is a top 100 player consistently,” Ram said. “For him to see that level and to see he’s not that far off, it’s hopefully motivating, and it gives him a path forward for a little while. Gojowczyk has won a lot of big matches. I don’t feel the result was the big thing for Nishesh, it’s the experience and how he’s going to grow from it.”
Basavareddy, who turned 17 in May, was thankful for the opportunity.
“I’m really grateful Rajeev, the USTA and everyone behind the scenes was able to bring this tournament here and give me a main draw wild card,” he said. “It’s a good experience for me to see how my game matches up with these guys. He was top 100 in the world, so it was good to see my level was pretty close. Obviously, he was better on the bigger points.”
Basavareddy said he didn’t feel any pressure, since Gojowczyk was a heavy favorite.
“It was nice having the entire crowd behind me,” he said. “Generally, when I play in front of a bigger crowd, it’s 50-50. Here it was probably 90 (percent) to 10. It was a good atmosphere.”
Basavareddy will play in the 18 nationals in Kalamazoo, Mich. in August.
“The winner gets a wild card into the U.S. Open, so that’s obviously a big tournament for me,” he said.