Three Years Prior To The StorylineEdit
Sanada was the runner-up for the Junior Tennis Tournament, losing to Yukimura. However, after the tournament, he was defeated by Tezuka Kunimitsu in two straight sets, 6-1 and 6-0. After the match, Sanada watched Tezuka battle the champion of the Junior Tennis Tournament, Yukimura Seiichi, and although the outcome of the match was never revealed, Sanada noted both of them to be quite strong and equal in strength.
Two Years Prior To The StorylineEdit
After his match against Tezuka, Sanada, along with his friend Yukimura, entered Rikkai Daigaku Fuzoku, where they, along with Yanagi Renji, entered the tennis club and led it to the Nationals for the next two years. It is during those times when the three Rikkai members were started to be known as the "Three Demons of Rikkai Dai." Sanada, along with Yanagi and Yukimura, completely crushed Kirihara Akaya in their second year and Sanada defeated Atobe Keigo of Hyōtei as well, although when they actually battled was unspecified, it is presumed they battled in the Kantō Tournament during their second year. During this time, Sanada gained the title of "The Emperor," due to crushing all of his opponents head-on. However, even with these accomplishments of leading the team to the Nationals undefeated, Sanada was still unsatisfied, knowing that he had not defeated Tezuka yet.
Sanada was first properly introduced in the manga right after the Kanagawa prefectures after Seigaku's District finals against Fudomine, noting that Seigaku was not using their full strength and was slacking. Inoue noted him to have led Rikkai Dai to the Nationals and acknowledged his strength. The next time he was shown, he defeated a Rikkai Dai OB (Old Boys, which pretty much means a graduate), Nishiki, 6-3, although Sanada noted that Nishiki had a period of time to study for the high school entrance exams, which slightly dulled Nishiki's skills. Sanada also noted the skill and concentration ability of his fellow teammate, Kirihara Akaya, but stated that Akaya still needed 10 more years to beat him.
His next appearance was at the first round of the Kanto tournament, in the Tezuka vs Atobe Singles 1 match. He noted that Tezuka was slacking after he lost, but Akaya noted that Sanada was the one who wanted to beat Tezuka. However, he was quite impressed when watching the Echizen vs Hiyoshi Reserve match, noting that it was the battle "that will lead the next generation."
Sanada's team then faces Seigaku in the finals. With each team having 2 wins and 2 losses, Sanada is prepared to face his opponent in the Singles 1 slot: Ryoma.
In the manga, Sanada is initially overwhelmed by Muga no Kyochi. He then reveals Muga no Kyochi's weakness and uses Fuu Rin Ka Zan. Winning 5 consecutive games with Ka, Sanada is determined to crush Ryoma's game and spirit. Ryoma, however, does not give up and uses Sanada's Fuu to counter Ka, followed by continuous use of Drive B's. Sanada then resorts to using lobs, knowing that Ryoma can't reach them in his weakened state.
However, 1 point away from victory, Sanada is taken aback by Ryoma's willpower and accidently hits the lob out. Eventually driven to match point, Sanada decided to unleash Muga no Kyochi himself. Confident that Ryoma could not return another lob, he bids Ryoma farewell and hits it. However, Ryoma uses the referee's chair to jump to the lob's height and hit his COOL Drive, which completely surprises Sanada and the match spectators. Impressed by Ryoma's willingness to gamble the point on that last shot, Sanada accepts his defeat.
In the anime, Sanada takes an early lead with his Invisble Swing. After 3 sets, Ryoma strikes back repeatedly with his mastered Cyclone Smash. After Ryoma starts to counter his Invisible Swing, Sanada remembers the promise he made with Yukimura and goes all-out, but loses when Ryoma unlocks the Samurai's Eye (anime version of Muga no Kyochi).
In the manga, it is noted that Sanada and the Rikkai Dai members do not accept the second-place medal, stating that they refuse anything that is not first, while in the anime, Sanada humbly accepts the medal for the whole team.
Regional Select Invitationals CampEdit
Sanada is put into the Sasaki group along with his teamate Renji for the Kanto Junior Selection Camp. He believed that he will be chosen to play the American team (which was correct) from the first day.
The main highlight of the Camp was his match with Atobe, who wanted to see who was more worthy of a match with Tezuka. The match ended in a 3-3 tie before it was called off. It was what earned his position as a player against the American team.
Regional Select InvitationalsEdit
He, along with Atobe, were chosen to play as a Doubles pair in the Doubles 2 slot. In the beginning, he and Atobe were nothing like a doubles pair but near the end, they finally co-operated and won the match 7-5. The two of them came up with the Tango Towards Destruction technique. Sanada made the first move by hitting the tennis ball into Billy's hand then Atobe finished the move by smashing the ball into the court. This happened after the two of them were "dancing" (as Kikumaru described) and how the partners remembered how they saw each other at a Tango concert.
During Echizen's match with Kevin Smith, he was silently supporting Echizen to win. Like the rest of the team, he did not think Echizen was faking the return of Kevin's Illusion. However, he asked Atobe just to make sure.
Prior to the NationalsEdit
After the Kanto Tournament, Sanada demanded that his teammates slap him as he would to them if they lost. He told them that it was not acceptable that he, who had strongly enforced Rikkaidai's law of absolute victory, lost a match and not be punished. He made sure that every single member of the team (with the exception of Yukimura who was still in the hospital) slapped him. Sometime before Seigaku's National Quarterfinal match against Hyoutei, Sanada had a match with Atobe, who traveled to Rikkai to challenge him.
Sanada was in the process of crushing Atobe, until Atobe finally perfects his new move- World of Ice (later first shown in the Singles 1 match against Ryoma). Both Sanada and the onlookers were shocked, but Sanada wanted to continue to play though he did not know what knew trick Atobe developed. Yukimura, however, witnessing the match, steps in and ends it, telling Sanada that if it had continued, then Sanada would have lost.
In the Nationals, Sanada and Yukimura watch on the match between Seigaku and Hyoutei, where the flashback of Sanada's match with Atobe was shown.
Sanada finally revealed his true talents by unlocking the true form of "Fu Rin Ka Zan," which was first hinted in the Singles 1 match against Nagoya Seitoku at the National Semifinals, and its true form was revealed in the match against Seigaku.
In the anime, before the Finals, Oishi invited Sanada and the rest of Rikkaidai to eat yakiniku with them, but was turned down by both Sanada himself and Yukimura.
The next day, Sanada was able to gain a rematch against Tezuka, and after defeating Tezuka Zone, quickly took the first four games with his "Rai" of his "Fu Rin Ka In Zan Rai," the true form of his "Fu Rin Ka Zan." However, when Tezuka starts to counter with his Tezuka Phantom, the two starts to battle in a head-on match where either one would endanger a part of their body (Tezuka's arm and Sanada's legs). After Yukimura's advice to give up on the head-on match, he threw away his title as an "Emperor" for Rikkai's three-year consecutive National win, and finally defeated Tezuka after all these years. At the end of the match Sanada declares that he will never play against Tezuka again.
Afterwards, Sanada, along with Atobe, went to help Ryoma recover his memories, which succeeded. In the end, Rikkai Dai was unable to complete the three-year consecutive first-place Nationals title.
Prior To U-17 CampEdit
Sanada and Rikkai Dai continued training sessions as usual after the Nationals. Sanada and the rest of the Rikkai regulars take part in their school Ocean Festival and put on a play.
Sanada is shown with Kirihara practicing Yukimura's new plan to compete with Teni Muho no Kiwami. Yukimura tells the two of them to laugh while rallying, since he thought that if one is happy while playing tennis, they might achieve it. The method doesnt work however and Yukimura realizes he no longer likes the idea.
Sometime lafter the Nationals, the Rikkai Dai team was invited to the U-17 training camp along with several other middle schoolers, and was tricked into participating in a tiebreaker-style elimination match which seemed like it was doubles.
Sanada was forced to play against Yukimura, where both of them started to reminisce about the start of their reign. The first point of the match was quite long, as other people were getting finished with their matches while Sanada and Yukimura were still only rallying for the first point. However, things changed when eventually, Sanada falls under Yukimura's Yips effect and suddenly begins to lose his senses.
Because of Sanada's inability to fight back, Yukimura easily took the lead. It is worthy to note that Sanada is currently the only person to be able to physically stand while being yipped. Eventually Sanada suddenly breaks out of the Yips with a new aura (Black in color) and hit a ball passed Yukimura. The ball cut off Yukimura's headband and put a hole in the fence, completely stunning Yukimura and the audience. However, the aura disappeared the second Sanada got the point. Sanada loses the tie-break 7-1. Irie, Tokugawa and Oni noted Sanada's loss as a disappointment, while still acknowledging his skills and potential.
After losing his tie-break game with Yukimura, Sanada boards the coach with all the rest of the tie-break game losers believing they are heading home. However, the driver takes a detour into the mountains which bemuses the middle schoolers. When the coach stops, they are met by the Mental Training Coach again who offers them the option to climb up the mountain claiming it will close the gap between them and the middle schoolers who won the tie-break games and stayed at the camp. Sanada and all of the middle schoolers successfully climb the mountain and meet the High Schoolers who were unable to attain a ball and the Drunken Coach.
The Drunken Coach orders them about doing various tasks such as digging an enormous hole just for him to urinate in, and having a match which involved all High Schoolers against all Middle Schoolers and a dangerous Eagle hunt which involved the eagles hunting the students for balloons that were attached to their backs which were smeared with a scent that the eagles loved.
Eventually, it was revealed that all these dangerous tasks were in fact beneficial to the losers and boosted their abilities greatly. To the extent that Sanada could now activate his new Aura at will, and hit 5 balls at a time. Sanada and the rest of the middle schooler plot stealing the Drunk Coach's sake which angers him, to the extent he decides that the middle school losers should return to the Camp and cause a revolution.
At the end of the long drawn out Team Shuffle between Court 5 and Court 3, Sanada and the middle school losers return to the camp and defeat the 2nd Court of that time. It is unkown which players defeated which members of the 2nd Court in the manga, however the Head Coaches decide that the 27 middle schoolers losers are allowed to replace the 2nd Court and become the new one after defeating them. Sanada is then involved in the Camp Pillowfight.
U-17 Camp RevolutionEdit
Afterwards, Sanada is present at the main courts awaiting the arrival of the 1st Stringers. The Top 10 members arrive, wondering why the other half of the 1st Stringers are taking so long, Sanada is one of the few that is aware that the Nos.11-19 are all being defeated by middle schoolers. Once the middle schoolers return after defeating and replacing the Nos.11-19, Sanada along with other middle schoolers challenge the Top 10 for their positions.
Genius 10 ChallengeEdit
Sanada is seen to be watching the Kite/Marui vs Kimijima/Atsukyo match with Ryoma. They both see Ryoga Echizen leave to go the bathroom. Right after, Ryoma suddenly stands up. Sanada asks if Ryoma intends to "go to the bathroom" too. Knowing that Ryoma intends to play against his brother, he tells him to not go all out before his match.
While Sanada watches the Kintarou vs Oni match he finds Akutsu playing tennis very violently with Ryoga and Ryoma. He yells at them to stop and tells Akutsu to come with him to be his partner for doubles as Ryūji Ōmagari and Shūji Tanegashima get ready to play.
The match kicks off with an extremely fast and heated pace with Sanada bringing out his special attacks and Akutsu going on the attack however the High Schoolers stun them as Tanegashima effortlessly returns all of Sanada's moves and hits back Lightning (Rai) which startles Sanada and further showing Tanegashima's amazing skill. Suddenly, Tanegashima deems Sanada/Akutsu unworthy and too weak for him to take seriously in a match so he hands his racket over to Ohmagari Ryuuji and Ohmagari begins to overwhelm the two Middle schoolers by himself whilst playing with 2 rackets (which is against the rules of Tennis).
After the battle for the No.1 of U-17 Japan ended with Byoudouin Houou defeating Tokugawa Kazuya followed by Echizen Ryoma's expulsion from the camp for interfering with the match, the head coach who is revealed to be Mifune announces that there will be a World Cup U-14 division and that Sanada is the 4th player announced on the Middle School All-Japan team.