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Nisha Rajamohan and Lauren Rahr are the Waterford High School girls' tennis team's No. 1 and 2 singles players, both juniors who helped lead the Lancers to the state semifinals in the spring.
They've been friends for so long, it didn't really phase Rahr when Rajamohan came flying at her one day in the summer of 2012 saying, "I've got this great idea."
It was, in fact, a great idea.
Rajamohan, who was born with only a portion of her right arm and plays tennis quite deftly that way, enlisted Rahr in helping her give back to Shiners Hospitals for Children in Springfield, Mass. Shriners is the organization which helped outfit Rajamohan with a series of prosthetic arms since she was six months old.
Shriners, due to the efforts of Rajamohan and Rahr, who ran a tennis tournament at Waterford on Sept. 7, is now $5,300 richer.
"I wanted to show my appreciation for Shriners," said Rajamohan, who said she's been to the Springfield hospital "too many times to count." "Every time I go there, they ask me what they can do to make the arm better for me to help with tennis."
To serve, Rajamohan balances the ball on her prosthetic arm and tosses it with the limb, as well, until she can serve left-handed. She improved her backhand by attending IMG Academy Bollettieri Tennis camp over the summer.
Rajamohan has been involved in the sport for eight years, reaching the semifinals of the Eastern Connecticut Conference tournament last year as the No. 5 seed before losing to top-seeded Annika Burgess of Stonington.
She was an All-ECC selection and a member of The Day's All-Area team.
"She is awesome," said Rahr of Rajamohan's ability to overcome. "I know a lot of girls from the other teams, like after the Stonington match they came over and said how amazing it was. It's unbelievable. She's really determined and positive. Awesome."
More than 40 people participated in the fundraiser.
Winners were: 14-and-under, Fadi Junior Hage (2nd, Ryan Dombroski); Girls' singles, Francisca Secor (2nd, Shruti Alavala); Boys' singles, Suryansh Patel (2nd, Willie Dong); Adult doubles, Victor Niezrecki/Matt Golreich (2nd, Stanley Niezrecki/Tin Truong).
Shriners Hospitals for Children, a network of 22 non-profit hospitals across North America, provides children with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries and cleft lip and palate with care regardless of the patients' ability to pay.
Donations are still being accepted at http://support.shrinershospitals.org/goto/Nisha-Lauren
"We spent a lot of nights this summer making posters, trying to think what could we add to make it even better," Rahr said. "It felt good knowing you can help someone for a good cause.
"We tried to start it when the school year started so we could put up the posters. Even our history teacher came and played."