Humans of Harker: Stringing together

Mihir Sharma (12) finds his energy doing what he loves, with the people he loves


Arya Maheshwari

"For me, it’s just doing things that are stupid and mundane, and then doing them with friends makes them fun, and exciting and unique — I just like that," Mihir Sharma (12) said.

The neon Penn tennis ball rebounds sharply between the flat racket and the ground, its every movement guided by a rapid impulse from the vibrating Wilson strings. With his headphones on and his head swaying, Mihir Sharma (12) carefully lowers the racket, speeding up the ball’s bouncing, before raising it again just in time for the song’s beat drop. 

When many first think of Mihir, “really good tennis player” often jumps out as an unshakeable epithet. After years of playing and countless hours of practice, tennis has become one of the defining activities of his life. 

“I’ve been on the tennis team since I was in middle school, but I’ve been playing since I was in kindergarten,” Mihir said. “I just don’t remember a time when I didn’t have a racket in my hand at some point of the week.”

For Mihir, tennis doubles as both an activity that requires intense focus and therein also an escape from any other events and worries from the day. While playing, distraction simply cannot be afforded.

“It’s a feeling of, ‘I’m doing this, I’m forgetting about everything else because I’m so focused on this one thing,” Mihir said. “With tennis, it’s every point to the next.” 

Though the sport has been formative in Mihir’s individual athletic journey, no game of tennis can be played alone, and the community of players on the upper school tennis teams give the game much of its value for Mihir. 

“It’s a community of people who just love the sport and have fun playing it, and that’s why I’ve never sacrificed that part of my Harker career,” Mihir said. “I remember freshman year as we came back from [a match in] San Francisco, Bryan [Wang (12)] and I were just singing ‘La La Land’ songs in the car the entire ride back… It was so much fun.” 

To best describe Mihir and his enthusiasm for supporting and interacting with his teammates, senior Vishnu Jaisim, who has been playing tennis with him since seventh grade, picked two words: “big brother.” 

“He’s that type of person that’s going to be there for you any time, the type of person to give you big brotherly hugs whenever you need them, or even if you don’t need them,” Vishnu said. “Whenever he plays doubles, he’s always the first one to give you a high five. If you were behind him when you were jogging for warm-ups, he would wait for you, and he would talk to you.”

Yet alongside the exhilaration of playing with teammates and the prowess that was born from countless hours of practice came setbacks from injuries. After breaking his hip in sophomore year and being unable to play for a three-month period he recalls as one of the hardest times in his life, Mihir gradually recovered and rebounded through the support of friends and family alike. 

“After my injuries, after I got back onto the court, started running with Coach Chisam last year, [I] just [realized] that it doesn’t matter if I’m on the college team or not,” Mihir said. “As long as I have people to play with and a way to participate in tennis and even running, if it’s with friends, then I’m not going to be upset.”

Alongside athletics, music is one of the constants that has captivated Mihir from a young age. He began playing the piano at age six and composing his own music when he was eight, but one of his latest passions he picked up only recently, when he was injured from tennis last year. 

“One day I just grabbed the guitar at home and just started playing it. I couldn’t make any sounds because it was my first time playing guitar, but since November I’ve picked it up,” Mihir said. “[Now] I need to impose limits on myself or else I’m not going to be doing any other work.” 

Senior Grant Miner, a musician on the upper school jazz band and a close friend who has known Mihir since the day they both walked in to take a math placement test to enter Harker, described Mihir’s musical endeavors as a “pure passion.” 

“Watching someone find a song that they want to learn, and then learning it, and then playing it and having the courage to present to someone like me or to a friend, even in an incomplete form or imperfect form — he amazes me as a musician in that sense,” Grant said.  

Now, as treasurer of Unplugged, the upper school’s guitar club, as well through his captaincy of the upper school tennis team and leadership role in Link Crew, Mihir hopes to give back and mentor less experienced students, just as he was mentored when beginning his activities. 

“The whole reason I’m doing all of it is that I was inspired by all the people who used to lead the clubs,” Mihir said. “[In tennis] being able to see other people and help them improve as well so that they kind of enjoy the sport as much as I do that’s really important to me.”

Upper school history teacher Katy Rees, who taught Mihir in his Honors U.S. History class in junior year and also advises Link Crew, noted Mihir’s passion to help others and “infectious personality” as two of his defining characteristics. 

“He gets very excited about what he’s doing and enjoys mentoring other people,” Rees said. “He takes it very seriously the task of training others, and helping them learn from his experiences he’s just always a positive force in Link Crew.” 

And for Mihir, it all comes down to that: doing what he loves, with the people he loves. 

“For me, it’s just doing things that are stupid and mundane, and then doing them with friends makes them fun, and exciting and unique I just like that,” said Mihir.