Observer Presents: Athlete of the Month


Kaveri Udupa

Sejong Kim, a 7th grader at OHS and a competitive tennis player, practices on the court.

April: Sejong Kim

Meet Sejong, a 7th grader at OHS who is an award-winning competitive tennis player and has played in over 50 tournaments. While respectful and participative in class, Sejong transforms into a fierce and strong player on the court. I chatted with him for a little bit about tennis and his future plans:

Can you describe an average day in your life? How many hours do you practice a day or week?

Sejong: I wake up, eat breakfast, go play tennis, then I have a short break and eat a little snack and go back and play more tennis. After that, I come home and do my classes and homework

I practice for around 4 hours a day,  six times a week. When I have an extra practice/tournament I usually finish all of my homework that is due during the tournament about one or two days in advance. 

Does playing help you in any way with other areas of life such as academics?

Sejong: I do not think that playing tennis helps me that much with academics, but it does help me balance the work better when I know I have tennis. 

Who are your role models? What has been one of your greatest challenges as a student-athlete?

Sejong: I play tennis as it is a fun sport and I love to compete and interact with others. My role models are Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and my sister, who also inspired me to start playing. One of the greatest challenges I face is trying to get over losing to someone that I should have beaten.

Where do you see yourself with regard to tennis 5 years from now?

Sejong: In 5 years, I will be a senior. I hope to be still playing tennis competitively and hopefully being better at it. I hope to also be in the process or have finished my college application process. In any case, I would like to stay with my team because it is a very positive environment and there is a lot of support. 

Have you always had the same coach? If so, does changing coaches make a difference to learning?

Sejong: Yes, I have been with about 5 coaches so far, and I recently joined my current coach in September of last year. Sometimes because some places are more negative than others and make learning more difficult, but this coach is a lot more positive than my last one. For example, my new coach has helped me improve my serve, so I get up to the ball more, my movement on my forehand and backhand so I will not let the ball drop as much, and my volleys so I have better control

Do you have a favorite moment or win related to playing tennis? Do you have any rituals on tournament days?

Sejong: One of my favorite memories is when I won my first tournament in orange ball when I was 8, and my very first yellow ball tournament match when I was 9. On tournament days, my ritual is to wake up about 2 hours before my match time and go warm up with someone from the place that I train at. Then, I go to the tournament site and do a dynamic warmup and check-in for my match, then I go play.

How has the pandemic affected tennis practice?

Sejong: The pandemic has had an impact on my tennis practice, but not a huge one. As tennis is outdoors and players are on different sides of the court with the coach normally on the side there is not much of a risk and social distancing happens naturally. We have had challenges though. For example, someone in our group caught COVID and we had to stop for about a week. For the next couple of weeks, only my sister could train. I think that was the biggest challenge. 


It’s good to see Sejong back on the court and the Observer wishes you all the best for your next tournament.