Nithya Raya's high school tennis career might not have gone as she would have hoped, but the recent Pickerington Central graduate is off to a fast start for the next stage of her life.
Raya recently earned $2,000 in scholarships from the Ohio High School Athletic Association, which she will use toward her studies at Ohio State. Raya plans to major in biochemistry with a pre-medicine focus.
"It was very nice (to get the scholarship)," Raya said. "I was a little shocked."
The OHSAA awarded $55,000 in college scholarships to 49 recent graduates. Recipients were selected by special committees within each of the six OHSAA districts based on a point system that rewarded students for their GPA, ACT or SAT scores, varsity letters earned and individual and team athletic honors.
Raya also earned a Minority Scholarship, which is given to one recipient per district.
Other area scholarship winners were Erin Balasky from Columbus School for Girls, Charles Benton of Johnstown and DeSales' Bryan Stopar.
Raya, who was first in her graduating class with a 4.54 GPA, said her career goals include becoming an anesthesiologist or plastic surgeon.
Her father, Neel, runs a medical practice in Lancaster. Her older brother, Nischal, was a state qualifier for Central's boys tennis team in 2007.
Nischal Raya and Gian Sposito won a Division I district championship that year and went 1-1 at state.
Nithya Raya played first singles as a freshman and sophomore. She split time between first and second singles as a junior, and went between third singles and first doubles last season before sustaining an injury to the sesamoid bones in her right foot in September.
"She always excelled at everything she did," Tigers coach Kelli Rings said. "She came into the program very mature and with a strong work ethic, and that never changed. Whatever I needed from her, she always came through and whatever needed done would get done."
Tennis was Raya's only sport, but she stayed busy with several other organizations, including Key Club, Science Olympiad, Spanish Club and Sunny Side Up, a peer group. She also was president of the National Honor Society and took classes at OSU throughout her senior year.
Raya has not played tennis since her injury. She didn't want to risk injury while preparing for an Indian classical dance recital.
"I probably won't play again until I get to college, and then it'll be intramurals," Raya said. "I've been playing since I was 5. I love the game."