Brooklyn College Freshman and racquetball champ Akul Ramayani
Being a three-time Junior World Champion for Team USA in the International Racquetball Federation isn’t something you’re likely to find on the résumé of the average college student. But Akul Ramayani is anything but typical. Winning his first national championship at age 11, he has gone on to become one of the most impressive members of Team USA and a standout on the international racquetball circuit.
Focused, goal-oriented, and determined are a few words that come to mind after speaking with the star athlete, who comes from Poughkeepsie, New York.
Ramayani’s entrance into the world of racquetball was something of an accident. When he was eight years old, his family joined a recreational center and planned to send him for tennis lessons, but the center only had racquetball courts. With a bit of encouragement from local racquetball club members, young Akul took to the sport with ease. “I started getting better and loving the sport. I never went back to tennis,” says Ramayani. He went on to become the youngest athlete to ever win the New Jersey State Singles Open Division and has received a four-time Olympic Training Center appointment. He is also an eight-time USA National Gold Medalist, a five-time All-American athlete, and the 2018 U.S. Racquetball Association Junior Athlete of the Year.
One of Ramayani’s biggest skills is his ability to juggle myriad pursuits. While continuing to play racquetball, he is currently on the pre-med track. Enrolled in the Coordinated B.A.-M.D. Program, the freshman chose Brooklyn College for what he believes is the excellent opportunity to gain firsthand medical experience and the flexibility to take part in his other areas of interest. “The majority of my time, when I’m not studying, is spent training at the gym,” says Ramayani.
Ramayani is preparing for his last year at the USA Junior National and the Junior World Championships. “I look forward to doing my best in all my classes, and I hope to be on campus one day so I can meet new people and become friends with them,” he says. For the long term, his plans are “to become a cardiothoracic surgeon and play on the professional racquetball tour at the same time.”
Ramayani emphasizes that none of his success has been gained without support. “I can’t ask for better parents and a better sister. They have always encouraged me to do my best in whatever I am interested in,” says Ramayani. “My grandparents have always been on my side. And fellow racquetball player Bob Santoro and Jill Berowicz—both family friends—have acted as another set of grandparents for me, always encouraging me to do my best.”