By Casey Leary
August 16, 2012
Komal Safdar hitting a backhand in her qualifying round match at the W&S Open
Everyone love’s a good story. You know how it goes — local girl defeats a number of highly ranked players, makes it to the pro tour and takes home the title. Last Saturday, 19-year-old Komal Safdar, a Cincy native, played a qualifying match in the Western & Southern Open.
Unfortunately, this is not the part of the story where the girl overcomes all odds and beats the 90th ranked player in the world. Safdar lost 6-1, 6-1 to Johanna Larsson. But it’s ok because Safdar has a promising future, and that part of the story comes later (i.e., it has yet to be written).
Growing up, Safdar honed her skills under the tutelage of Matt Dektas at Five Seasons Sports Club. With an emphasis on physical fitness and shot variety, Safdar’s game rapidly developed into an aggressive all-court style. It wasn’t long before she began making her mark in Ohio and then all over the midwest.
Komal with her coach Matt Dektas at the Midwest Sectional Qualifier
During her tenure at Ursuline, Safdar owned the first singles position and eventually collected a state title her senior year. In storybook fashion, she won the doubles championship with her younger sister Mehvish, who was a freshman at the time.
Following high school, Safdar joined up with the Syracuse Orangemen, where she’ll be heading into her sophomore year playing under head coach Luke Jensen, a wildly entertaining former doubles pro.
For those that know Safdar, they’d certainly acknowledge her most admirable trait has nothing to do with a tennis racquet; but rather, it’s her humility. She isn’t bigger than the game or the moment; she stays within herself. So for someone who doesn’t willingly jump into the spotlight, we took matters into our own hands.
The floor is yours… GO
One on one with Komal Safdar:
iSPY: How did it feel to compete in your own backyard i.e. the Western & Southern Open?
Safdar: It was the best tennis experience of my life. I have been going to this event for as long as I can remember, but I never thought I would actually be competing in it.
Safdar: On the women’s side it’s a tie between Clijsters and Henin. For the men, I have always been a Federer fan because of his all-court style.
iSPY: What type of racquet and strings do you use?
Safdar: Wilson k-blade; strings are white savage.
iSPY: Favorite shot to hit…
Safdar: My favorite shot is probably my serve. I have always been able to hit it pretty hard, and it’s the one shot that is always the same no matter what, which I love.
iSPY: To grunt or not to grunt?
Safdar: Not to grunt.
iSPY: One thing you can say about Luke Jensen that the public wouldn’t know…
Safdar: He makes us learn a left-handed serve and overhead just for fun. On a more serious note, he is coaching at Syracuse because he wants to re-create American tennis, to get Americans back in grand slam contention.
iSPY: What is top on your bucket list?
Safdar: In terms of tennis, a combo of strength and fitness training to keep up with the pace of the women on the pro tour. Personally, academics are big for me especially since I’m on the pre-med track. I also love playing the piano and the guitar so I really want to improve my music skills.
iSPY: Tennis can be a pretty solitary sport, any mottos or mantras you say to keep yourself going on the court?
Safdar: After I lose a match, “Don’t get mad, get better.”to top ↑