April 19, 2007

10 Questions with Nisha Suda

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After a weeklong hiatus and a 3 a.m. trip to Kinkos to print out his thesis, Sun Senior Writer Paul Testa pulled a Monica Seles and served up some questions to senior co-captain Nisha Suda of the women’s tennis team.
1. You’re 4-1 in league singles this year, including a three-setter to clinch the match against Dartmouth two weekends ago. How do you handle that pressure when you know that it’s 3-3 and your match is the difference maker?
I think I’ve been playing so long that there’s no time to get nervous. Freshman year, if the match came down to me, and I lost it, it sucked. Now after so many years of experience, you get a lot tougher. When I was down in the match when we were playing Dartmouth, I was talking to [head coach] Laura [Glitz], I was just like, all right, I have to win this. She doesn’t need to tell me anything.
What do coaches say during a match like that or what can they say?
Sometimes if you’re not playing well, they’ll try and give you an actual point-by-point gameplan. But I feel like it gets to a point where it’s just motivation.
2. Why the grunting?
[Laughing] I guess there are a number of reasons. It’s good for timing. It really helps. I don’t know when I started doing it, maybe three years ago, but it’s helped my game. I’ve gone from a losing record to a winning record. The other thing I think a lot of people don’t realize is that compared to some of the other girls on the team, I’m really small.
How tall are you?
I’m about 5-3 and a half. Sometimes I lie.
How tall are you without heels?
[Unconvincingly] 5-3. I’m small especially compared to other girls on the team, but they say that they don’t notice because I’m so loud.
So you’re compensating. Do you feel like it gets in an opponent’s head?
Definitely, especially against the girl from Dartmouth. I think it kind of scared her. Especially when it comes to that point in a match, you’re not even playing points anymore, you just have to intimidate your opponent and I think that’s what did her in.
Can you give us your most intimidating grunt?
[Distressed] I’m not going to do it here! It’s hard to do it on command.
Do you find yourself grunting in activities outside of the tennis court?
No, unless I do it in my sleep. Maybe at Wegmans when I’m reaching for that top shelf.
I would do it during prelims. You know, on like an especially hard question you could just be like “Aaay?” and I don’t think the professor would notice.
3. It seems like the trend in tennis has been toward larger racquets, with larger head sizes and longer lengths. Do you think bigger is better?
I mean it’s a trade-off. Yeah, it can be more entertaining, but sometimes it’s better to see that skill and see nice touch shots and not just watch people pounding the hell out of the ball.
It’s not the size of your racquet, it’s how you use it?
Yes, I guess I’d have to agree with that.
Is there a particular grip that you prefer?
I feel like I’ve gone more and more western as I’ve been playing. I’m actually to the point where my wrist is hurting, but I’ve got one more week and if I can pull it out, I’ll be OK.
4. I noticed on your facebook wall that former team captain Liying Wang [’06] calls you “Quiche.” How did you get this nickname?
I don’t know, we just have random nicknames for each other. I don’t know where that one came from.
Don’t lie to me! You have to know the story behind the name so let’s hear it.
No actually, I don’t know, I’d have to call Wang to find out. I can call Wang. Do you want me to call her?
Let’s call her right now.
[Dialing] She’s at work, it might be a little awkward
Where does she work?
She’s in New York City working as a paralegal.
La-di-da. It’s time to get her fired from her job. Hi Liying? This is Paul Testa from the Cornell Daily Sun. I’m doing 10 Questions with Nisha Suda and was hoping you could help explain the origins of her nickname Quiche?
[Laughing over speakerphone] Can I think of a good answer and then get back to you? Let me think about it and call you back.
We’ll be waiting.
[Awkward silence as interview stops for 20 minutes while Testa stairs at Suda’s phone]
Ooh a text message!
It’s Wang.
We have a text message from Liying Wang: “A quiche is an awkward combo of sweet and salty, a solid staple food, and always reliable to kick ass.”
5. [Unsmoothly] Is it difficult to play with those?
[Mildly amused] Actually, I think it was Billie Jean King that said that the hardest shot for a large breasted lady is a backhand volley into her body because there’s just so much to move.
Have you ever thought about surgery?
No, I’m pretty content with what I’ve got. Have you been thinking about this?
[Defensively] No! It’s just an issue I’ve never had to deal with when I’m playing tennis. At least not until recently…
Thank you for your concern. I’ll tell the whole team. We’ll have a team meeting to say Paul is very concerned with our breasts.
That’s so unfair! I just want to know if it’s an issue on the court.
Not really, it’s not like you’re carrying a backpack on you. You’re used to it. But it is fact according to Billie Jean that for a top-heavy lady, it’s hard to hit a backhand volley.
So you’re scouting out a girls cup-size before a match?
[Laughing] I’m no doctor, but I’m pretty sure most things are proportional. So, if someone’s big they’re going to be big all around and you just want to get them on the run.
It worked for Baywatch.
6. You’re from Kinnelon, N.J. What do think is the most famous thing about your town, Tripod Rock in High Point State Park, or the fact that Missy Elliot has a home in Kinnelon?
Well, now, I guess it’s Missy Elliot’s home.
But it’s a gigantic boulder on three smaller boulders!!
I know.
Have you seen it?
I haven’t actually seen it.
Are you kidding me?! This is the one thing Wikipedia has on your podunk town. There are small tripod rocks around it and it points to the place where the sun rises on Summer Solstice. Is it from glaciers, or Native Americans, or maybe aliens — no one knows!
I think it’s actually in West Milford, it’s not so much in Kinnelon. My town has lakes, bears, and Missy Elliot.
Tell me more about Missy Elliot. Do you just “Lose Control” and “Get Ur Freak On” when you see her at the supermarket?
She moved in while I’ve been at school, and I’ve spent so much time at school, I haven’t really been at home. But I’ll call her up when I get home and challenge her to a match.
7. While we’re on the topic of music, is it true that you’re the team DJ?
No, we like to mix it up.
Really? Because that’s not what your teammates say. They say it’s all Sean Paul all the time.
That’s not true! I had a Sean Paul phase, and it’s over now. But there is no shame in that.
You can say it’s over, but I’m not sure I believe you.
It was a phase. It was a good thing to listen to when you were working out or running around.
I do neither of those things, but I can imagine. What’s taken the place of Sean Paul on the warm-up mix?
We’ve got some Gwen Stefani.
Does Gwen Stefani speak to girls differently than she does to guys? Personally, I hear Gwen and remember the crush I had on her in middle school, but I kind of stopped paying attention after Tragic Kingdom.
When she got braces that just did you in?
She got braces?
She had braces at like 30 and she still held on to Gavin Rossdale. I watch a lot of E!
Is this how you unwind after tennis practice?
Yes! I love the
[Interrupts] A nice bowl of Talk Soup?
Yes, I love the Soup.
Wait, you were just going to say The Girls Next Door weren’t you?
I love The Girls Next Door. They’re so funny and it also motivates me to get that degree.
I’m sure Hef is getting bored with some of them and there will be an opening.
He’s going to marry Holly!
For real?
They’re engaged.
How do the other girls feel about that?
I guess Bridget is passed her prime. She’s 35.
Yeah, and then there’s what’s her name looks like she’s cooked out of her mind all the time.
Kendra, yeah. You know what bothers me the most is that her mom and her grandmother are always visiting and she did this calendar where she’s in this golf outfit and she was like “My drandmother loves Golf. She’s going to love this.”
I’ve tried to keep all of my calendar shoots away from relatives’ eyes. What girl on the tennis team could fill the Girls Next Door role?
You know who I’d love to see on the Girls Next Door is [junior] Weatherly Schwab. She’s just so sarcastic and hilarious and she’s a blond.
I feel like she has too much, what’s the word, self respect.
8. You went to Newark Academy for high school, correct?
Yes, although it’s not actually in Newark.
I love how you point that out. Everyone in Jersey has this huge inferiority complex, but you know what, it’s your life. Your life is like an open turnpike and you just got to live with it while you’re alive. Now, would you say you’re the second best tennis player to come out of the Academy after professional tennis player Justin Gimelstob?
There’ve been a lot of people that have come out of that program.
Is it a tennis factory for Jersey. Are there giant headshots of Gimelstob looking over the courts?
No, but he comes by and visits.
Have you met him?
I have. [Whispering] He’s kind of a prick.
He has the most boring tennis blog on SI.com. He’s terrible.
He’ll probably be coming for me after this.
With his game, I think you can take him.
9. Now, there’ve been some other quality tennis players to come out of Newark Academy, including your younger sister, Nina, who now plays for Columbia. What’s your record against her in college?
It’s 2-0. She almost had me last time but I pulled it off.
Tell me you lord this over her all day long.
I don’t know what to say to that.
Just be honest. Don’t tell me you don’t bring it up at home when it’s time to do the dishes.
All right, sometimes, I guess when we are in a fight, maybe. But she’ll always mention how she’s doing fabulously in school.
Cute. Is it difficult playing a girl you’ve shared roof with for most of your life?
It’s definitely hard playing against her because either it has the potential to be a really great match because we’ve played so much together or it’s just really bad. So the first time we played it was really good and the second time it was just bad.
Does your father ever tell you to tank it, to give your sister a break?
No, he did joke about fixing the match and taking some bets, though.
Now that’s a real tennis dad.
10. What is the hottest men’s varsity team at Cornell?
I’m going to have to say lightweight crew. I remember when former tennis player Akane Kokubo [‘05] was asked this, she said that since we were off campus we didn’t really see many other athletes and at the gym it was just the crew team, they were pretty gross. That’s not the case, and we would like to retract that statement.
For full disclosure here, you’re dating a member on the lightweight crew. Are you just trying to save your relationship?
I don’t think he’d be mad if I had another opinion.
Why not the heavyweight crew? Can you not handle all 347 pounds of former heavyweight rower and fantasy baseball baby Per Ostman [’43]?
It’s nothing specific. We get to see them at the gym and they’re just a good group of guys.
Listen, this isn’t an objective answer. We’re talking pure hotness, pure animal lust, and I want to know what’s the hottest men’s team at Cornell. What about the men’s tennis team?
They’re a great group of guys, but because we see them so often they’re like family.
The nice guy effect. Fine. We need a definitive answer, why lightweight crew?
[Thinking] Who doesn’t like a man in spandex?
Do you make him wear it on dates?
He wears his whole spandex uni and I wear my tennis outfit. It’s grand.
Paul Testa is a Sun Senior Writer. 10 Questions will appear every Thursday this semester, unless Testa runs into Justin Gimelstob on the street. Questions and comments may be sent to ptesta@cornellsun.com.