Ohm Sharma managed the tasks of being a leader for the Webb School of Knoxville boys’ tennis team for the past four seasons.
The 2019 graduate moved into the No. 1 singles spot as a freshman, when he lost a match that motivated him the next three seasons.
It was the 2016 Division II-A state tournament team finals, and Sharma lost at No. 1 singles to University School of Jackson’s Cade Reasons, 6-3, 6-0.
Webb lost the match, 4-0.
“That was pretty heart-breaking,” Sharma said. “I remember that was my first sort of real important loss at that kind of stage, and I just hated seeing my team go through that.
“Even at that point, I was still like leading the team, and I felt like hadn’t done maybe as much as I could have, and from that match onward, I really tried to make sure we took care of business on the team matches and tried to maximize what we could do.”
Consider the job done.
Sharma was one of three team captains this spring – along with co-seniors Ben Aikens and Parth Tailor – as the Spartans clinched their third consecutive Division II-A state team title.
Sharma finished the season with a 24-6 singles record against a demanding schedule while taking ownership of the team.
“It’s something Ohm really wanted to do is lead the team,” Webb coach Jim Pitkanen said. “He’s really had the desire to do it, made the effort to do it and stepped up and did it.
“Ohm had a 24-6 record in singles, but all six of those losses he took extremely personally because he took it as a loss to the team.”
One of those losses came during Webb’s 4-2 victory over Christian Academy of Knoxville in the state title match. Sharma lost in three sets to CAK senior Reed Bristow.
Bristow’s victory over Sharma combined with a win by CAK’s Davis Brady over Wilder Dewhirst at No. 3 singles cut Webb’s lead to 3-2 going into doubles.
Sharma then teamed with Dewhirst, an eighth grader, at No. 2 doubles for an 8-3 win over Cole McDaniel and James Webster for the fourth and title-clinching point.
Bristow and Brady were leading Ben Aikens and Harrison Williams, 7-2, when the match ended.
“It was definitely tough after the singles matches,” Sharma said, “but you just had to adapt and overcome and put the nerves and emotions aside and get the job done.”
Sharma played No. 4 singles as an eighth grader when Webb beat USJ, 4-0, in the 2015 Division II-A state championship match. Webb’s No. 1 player was Lorenzo Rollhauser, a senior who had signed with Dayton.
After the 2015 team title, Sharma and Thomas Loaiza lost in the doubles semifinals to USJ’s Reasons and George Markos, who won the state title.
Sharma won the 2016 state singles title, teamed with Pearce to win the 2017 state doubles title, and in 2018 lost in the state doubles final with Pearce.
Sharma’s bid for another state singles title ended this spring with a 7-5, 6-3 semifinal loss to Nathan Irwin of Christ Presbyterian Academy, the 2018 singles champion and runner-up this year.
“(Irwin) played a really good match,” Sharma said. “I gave it my all. I played a solid match, but at the end of the day, he was a little bit better suited for that match. It was windy, hot, and that kind of benefitted his game a little more than mine. He won state singles last year so he was definitely a good player. He was tough.”
Sharma will attend the University of Georgia in the fall and begin following the footsteps of his parents, S.K. and Seema, who are both medical doctors.
Ohm has been accepted to Georgia’s pre-med honors program and will play intramural tennis. However, he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of transferring and playing college tennis in the future.
“I’m open to it,” he said. “The reason I chose Georgia is because I got into the honors program and they have a nice path toward pre-med, but I’ve been talking to coach Jimmy (Pitkanen) about some D-III schools or maybe even some small D-I schools that I could play for if that was an opportunity, so it’s still sort of out in the open.”