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Ryoma is a first year student at Seishun Academy, where he begins attending immediately after his arrival in Japan after residing in the United States. Although only a first year in middle school, Ryoma had already earned notoriety through winning four consecutive titles in the American Junior Tennis tournaments – all in a little over a year. Due to his nearly invincible tennis play, Ryoma has earned the label 'prodigy' by the age of twelve. His looks and confidence make him highly popular with ladies, although he seems not to notice, having his focus exclusively on tennis.
He is an all-court tennis player with many special shots and abilities. One of Ryoma's greatest talents is his ability to learn new techniques after only seeing them performed a few times. He also has an amazing amount of stamina and doesn't sweat as much as the other players. Along with fellow Seigaku regular Eiji Kikumaru, Ryoma is known to have an exceptional talent for seeing moving objects. He doesn't go easy on himself and pushes himself more rather than letting himself rest.
His favorite subject is Science, though he is better at English because he was in America for three years (his classmates admire him for that). Ryoma also has an attitude of being really distrustful of other tennis players.
Although he is left-handed, his famous Twist Serve is only effective when delivered from the dominant hand of his opponents (i.e. he uses his right hand when serving against right handed players). He occasionally plays tennis with his right hand as either a handicap for weaker opponents or a way to test his opponent's abilities. When the need for returning at a difficult angle or distance arises, Ryoma also incorporates the use of "nitoryū" or ambidexterity.
His catchphrase in the Japanese anime is "mada mada dane," literally meaning "no, not yet" or "not good enough." In Prince of Tennis English dub, this is translated as "You still have a ways to go." Having been brought up in the United States, Ryoma is fluent in English, and in the manga and the match with Sanada in the anime, he says "You still have lots more to work on."
Ryoma can be quite cocky and arrogant at times, but is always able to back up his statements with his tennis skills. Often before a match, Ryoma will provoke his opponent. In the beginning of the series, Ryoma was not taken seriously by the other students at his school, especially at the Seigaku tennis club. It was only after he had beaten two of Seigaku's regulars (Kaoru Kaidoh and Sadaharu Inui) that he gained respect with fellow club members.
Ryoma is quiet by nature, but always stands up for himself and others, even if it involves confronting an upperclassman. He is unafraid almost to the point of recklessness, but rarely gets angry or out of control. Most of the time, he is serious, quiet, and untalkative.