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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Adversity has only made Kristi Boro stronger

Kristi Boro tosses the ball up to serve it in practice on Monday, Jan. 29. Boro has overcome a lot of obstacles to become the player she is now. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

From the subcontinent of India to the north shore of Long Island and all the bumps in between, Kristi Boro’s long journey has prepared her for the 2024 season with the Stony Brook women’s tennis team.

The international sophomore has been one of the best singles players in the program since she arrived on campus, as her unique counter-punch style has powered her to many key wins. As a freshman, Boro went 15-7 in singles play, including 9-5 during the spring 2023 season that saw the Seawolves finish in fifth place in the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA). She is already at it again this year with three wins as her sophomore spring season sits just days away.

Boro’s journey began about 7,700 miles away in the backdrop of Assam, a state in Northeastern India known for its lush tea gardens — not tennis. Her childhood was similar to that of many, spending her days simply idling at home and watching television.

In an attempt to broaden Boro’s horizons, her mother forced her into a local tennis academy at the age of seven. As a kid, she found herself more often at odds with tennis than passionate about it.

“I hated tennis so much, I would cry just to not go to practice,” Boro said in an interview with The Statesman. “After a while I was like, ‘I’m not getting out of it, no matter what I do — might as well just play.’”

From the age of eight, Boro worked under Shiv Kumar Prajapati under the North East Tennis Foundation. Prajapati is a tennis player who still competes to this day in Assam. He was her coach until she was 15 years old, helping her hone her craft the type of player that she is today. 

“Honestly, he made my whole game,” Boro said. “Whatever game I have, whatever base, he made it. He tried really hard just to see if I could improve anything in my game. Even if I had no issue, he would try to make me better. Without him, I wouldn’t even be able to play tennis.”

Prajapati expected a lot, throwing Boro right into the fire and making her play against the academy’s senior players in one of her first lessons. Boro managed to break her opponent’s first serve, to the awe of her coaches. She improved rapidly and quickly rose up to the senior ranks in the organization.

At the same time, she was an avid runner — an activity that her family thought would be her future. They expected her to become a 100 or 200-meter sprinter, but due to injuries, that pathway was no longer feasible.

With running still being Boro’s first love, she was not entirely sold on committing to tennis. Not long after giving up running, her father nudged her into competitive tennis and urged her to play a tournament rather than quit the sport.

Despite her initial reluctance, Boro put her head down and kept going to work on the tennis court. Her interest in the sport improved as she started to form friendships with other girls at the academy. She channeled those positive feelings into her matches and turned the good vibes into wins, which gained her recognition on the local and regional level.

“I didn’t realize that it was kind of a big deal,” Boro said. “I just got to know after I graduated school that I was known by people I did not know before.”

As tennis became more of a serious endeavor, her family played a pivotal role in her journey. Both of her parents were willing to take off from work just to help her career progress. She believes that she would not be where she is today without their selflessness.

“They would wake up early, like sometimes at 4 a.m. to make me food just so I could go practice,” Boro said. “They would give me criticism, too. I was a pretty annoying kid, honestly, and I needed some of the scolding and criticisms.”

In the coming years, Boro was selected to the All Indian Tennis Association (AITA) Super Series Tennis under-12 team and Asia-Oceania World Junior Competition under-14 team.

After the COVID-19 pandemic briefly put her career’s trajectory on hold, Boro got right back into the thick of things and participated in 12 tournaments within a year. Excited to finish out her youth career and put herself on the professional map, Boro was primed to break out.

However, it did not go over as smoothly as she imagined, as she lost her first tournament of 2021 in just two sets. She had the same fate in her following tournament: a first-round exit. During a two-month timeframe, she was eliminated in either the first or second round of her first five tournaments that year.

Boro not only saw herself outmatched on the court, but also mentally. Doubt began to creep in, which only further caused her to plummet as a player. After finally realizing that she needed some outside help, she started seeing a sports psychologist.

“Whatever tournament I played, I kept losing,” Boro said. “I was really down towards the end of 2020. I don’t think I was depressed, but I was pretty down.”

Her doctor’s words were the perfect medicine for her mind to absorb, and the breathing techniques she learned from the psychologist still help her to this day. After receiving help for three months, Boro rediscovered her love for the game, which allowed her to take the next step. After progressively getting deeper and deeper in these tournaments, it all came together for her at the Joygaon AITA Women’s Tournament, where she won it all. She credited her victory to the psychologist, saying she won it “with her help.”

By earning her crowning achievement, Boro finished out her youth career on a high note, boosting her Universal Tennis Rating to an 8.6, placing her in line with many NCAA Division I players.

Now with an opportunity in front of her, she decided to pursue it. In 2022, Boro committed herself to finding a college in the United States to play Division I tennis at.

The transition from Assam to the U.S. was a tall task for Boro. The recruiting process was intricate and laborious, with her and her family needing to bombard various colleges with introductory emails and game footage. Ultimately, they received offers from Bradley University, Morgan State University and Stony Brook University.

Stony Brook had interest in Boro but did not have an open scholarship for her, tipping her in the direction of committing to Bradley, who offered her a full-ride gig. It was not until late in the winter of 2022 that a spot on the Seawolves’ future roster opened up for her, and she immediately accepted the offer.

“At the end of February, coach [Gary] Glassman called me and was like, ‘We have a full scholarship and a spot; do you want it?’” Boro said. “My dad was like, ‘Hell yeah.’”

Her freshman year was a rollercoaster. She started strong, winning her first five individual matches before hitting a midseason slump. She reached an emotional low point after losing in both her doubles and singles matchups at Quinnipiac on Feb. 18, 2023. After feeling overmatched during a couple of lopsided defeats, she returned to her post-COVID emotions and felt that she reached her breaking point.

Boro went back to the well and sought help from another sports psychologist. Once again, the therapeutic conversations with her doctor soothed her mind and relaxed her, returning her to a state of equilibrium. With her head in the right place, she rediscovered her mental strength and went back to what she had learned back in Assam.

She flexed her muscles towards the end of the 2023 season, winning three singles in a row. Her final victory came in the Seawolves’ first-ever postseason win over Towson, where she swept Sania Suchinsky in two sets to reign superior.

After spending her whole life playing tennis as an individual competitor, Boro has embraced the idea of playing on a team.

“I enjoy playing here,” Boro said. “Earlier, it just used to be me. But now when we play, there’s five or six people cheering for you.”

Off the court, Boro is a double major in sociology and psychology with a strong (and understandable) passion toward sports psychology. She hopes to do the same for other athletes that was done for her vulnerable times.

She is a star in the classroom, as she has been one of the academic leaders on a team that has generated over a 3.70 grade-point average in back-to-back semesters. Her prowess was recognized by the conference when she made the Spring 2023 CAA Honor Roll.

This offseason, Boro was thrown another hurdle to leap over when she got into a car crash that damaged ligaments in her knee. After taking some time off to rehab, Boro says she feels better than ever and is ready to build upon her strong debut season.

Stony Brook’s fans will get to see Boro continue to overcome roadblocks on Friday, Feb. 2 when her sophomore spring season officially begins.

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  • J

    JuryJan 29, 2024 at 10:55 pm

    Good luck kristi