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The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

WIS’s Zaid Zamani: D.C.’s Top Youth Tennis Talent

Eighth-grader Zaid Zamani after winning the Indoor Doubles Championship Hosted by Virginia Beach Tennis. (Courtesy of Zaid Zamani)

In the competitive world of youth tennis, very few shine as brightly as WIS eighth-grader Zaid Zamani. An eighth grader at WIS, Zamani has not only clinched the top tennis ranking in Washington, D.C. for his age group (Under 14), but he has also established himself as a formidable player on a national scale.

Zamani’s journey in tennis began at the age of three, influenced largely by his father’s passion for the sport. This early exposure laid the foundation for what has become a highly promising tennis career.

“My father took me to a tennis court, I loved it from the moment I started,” Zamani said. 

Zamani’s talent quickly expanded beyond casual play. At age 12, he achieved a significant milestone by winning a draw at the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Clay Court National Championships, propelling him into the spotlight. 

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“That was a big tournament to win,” Zamani said. “It really boosted my ratings and rankings.” 

These early successes paved the way for further accomplishments, including winning the second-highest level of tennis tournaments for his age group (MSK Academy Championship), allowing him to participate in Clay Court National Championship (Under 14). The National Championships, held once a year, are exclusive tournaments for the country’s top-ranked players, offering a showcase of the best in national competition.

In November 2023, Zamani played in the Eddie Herr International Junior Championship, where more than 2,000 junior tennis players from more than 90 countries compete at IMG Academy, a sports training location. The most competitive tennis players in the world come to this prestigious tournament and several professionals have also won it, including Andy Roddick, Xavier Malisse, Maria Sharapova, Jelena Jankovic and many more.

For Zamani, training is rigorous and demands discipline. He practices three to five times a week, each session consisting of two hours of practice, followed by an hour of fitness training. Thus, balancing his demanding training schedule with his academic responsibilities is quite a challenge. His mindset emphasizes efficiency and completing schoolwork quickly to accommodate his practice sessions.

The COVID-19 pandemic also posed a significant hurdle in Zamani’s journey, limiting his practice opportunities. 

“I wasn’t always able to practice on a weekly schedule,” he said. 

Despite these challenges, he remained focused on his growth and performance. Zamani’s recent accomplishments are a testament to his dedication. He won three consecutive national tournaments and participated in an international tournament in November 2023, showcasing his ability to compete with older and more experienced players.

As the number one ranked player in his age group in D.C., Zamani is aware of the importance of maintaining his position. “I just have to continue playing tournaments and do well in each,” Zamani said. This mindset has been pivotal in keeping him at the top of the rankings. 

In his journey, tennis superstars like Rafael Nadal have been a source of inspiration. 

“[Nadal] fights for every single point,” Zamani said. “I just like his mentality.” 

Such role models have shaped his approach to the game, allowing him to manage challenges. This has helped improve his performance under pressure.

Despite already being highly rated as a four-star recruit for universities, Zamani aspires to reach a five-star status. His immediate goal, however, is to win Nationals again, now in a higher division. 

Zamani greatly appreciates his parents and coaches for their support in his tennis journey, highlighting the pivotal role his family has played in his development. 

“My whole tennis journey started with my father,” he said. 

Looking ahead, Zamani aspires to play tennis in college, and potentially, at a professional level. “It’s very hard to go professional, but that’s a wish,” Zamani said. 

To young athletes aiming to reach his level, Zamani emphasizes the importance of hard work and practicing with intensity. 

“All the grinding that you do, that is what translates into tournaments, never give up,” he said. 


By Leonardo Sarzi Braga

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Leonardo Sarzi Braga, Multimedia Publications Editor

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