Patel excels in tennis while finding ways to better his community
By Elijah Manship
Om Patel, senior at Science Hill High School, has proven himself to be a standout member of our community.
Patel involves himself in numerous community service projects and volunteers regularly while also being an Eagle Scout and state champion in tennis.
Patel has been playing tennis since he was the age of three, but it was not without its struggles. Patel tried many sports, but wasn’t able to find a fit on the soccer field or baseball diamond. After some time his mom introduced him to tennis and Patel fell in love with the game.
“Tennis is different,” he said. “Tennis is like a mind game. There’s a lot of strategy when you play along with the physical aspect. No one shot is the same.”
Over the years Patel continued to improve his skills on the court and joined a local junior tennis team, the 423 Hall of Framers. They were then able to win the intermediate division while also winning the state and sectionals in the advanced division.
The 423 Hall of Framers will be competing at the national tournament from Sept. 29 to Oct. 2 in Orlando, Florida.
Patel also volunteers at the VA Clinic. “I take the samples they get from patients and I deliver them to the lab where they are analyzed,” he said.
Over the years, he has also organized and participated in many food drives. However, Patel is most proud of the Little Free Pantry he installed at the First United Methodist Church.
When asked what drove him to found this pantry, Patel said, “My community gives me a lot of drive as a tennis player and as a student. And I think that giving back to my community is the least I can do.”
The Little Free Pantry Organization recognizes itself as a grassroots, crowd-sourced solution to immediate and local needs. The Mini Pantry is a wooden box that members can leave and take non-perishable items as they need.
Patel even fills the box with his own items one day a week. He spoke about the impact that serving his community has and what first drove him to serve.
“So during COVID times I was in Boy Scouts and we met at the First United Methodist Church,” he said. “And whenever we would come and go we would see a lot of homeless people looking for shelter under the churches’ pavilion. I saw that as a scout and felt I needed to help.
“And I recognized that through investing my little time in the community I could help so many people,” Patel continued, “and the benefit is exponential.”