Hyderabad’s Sahaja captures second ITF title

Published: Published Date – 11:45 PM, Sun – 3 July 22

Sahaja Yamalapalli along with coach Ceasar Morales.

Hyderabad: Hyderabad tennis player Sahaja Yamalapalli recorded a string of impressive victories to capture her second ITF title when she emerged champion in the ECT ITF Women US 25k tennis tournament in Gurugram on Sunday.

The 21-year-old stunned last week’s ITF title champion Karman Kaur Thandi in the opener and another top player Sowjanya Bavisetty in the second round. She accounted for third, fourth and eighth seeded players on her way to second ITF title of the year. She downed third seed Victoria M 6-3, 7-6(5) in the title clash.

Speaking about her latest victory, she said the win over Karman in the opening match gave her the much-needed boost in the tournament. “The title victory hasn’t sunk in yet. I am very happy with my second ITF title. All the hard work paid off,” said the talented player who captured her first ITF title in March.

“I lost to Karman in the first round of the tournament last week where she captured the title. But that was a close match. I had my chances but could not convert them. This time, when I was drawn against her, I knew I got a second chance to make amends. I was aware of the mistakes I made last time and I prepared well this time. I didn’t think anything about her being the title winner. I just wanted to give my best and win the match and I did that.”

Sahaja, who entered the tournament without any seeding, revealed that the victory kept her going. “That win was crucial as it gave me a lot of confidence. I haven’t played many of these top Indian players before. I always wanted to play against them and see where I stand,” she revealed.

Sahaja, who returned to India recently from the US, credited her coach Cesar Morales and team at the PBI Tennis Academy, Padukone Dravid Centre for Sports Excellence, Bengaluru. “After winning my first ITF title, I wanted to join an academy. I reached out to coach Morales and we got along well. He came to Bengaluru from the US four months ago. Once I realised that he can help me get to the next level, I joined the academy. He was there with me throughout this week and his presence made a lot of difference,” she added.

The Hyderabadi is currently ranked 12 in India and the victory will propel her to sixth. The win also helped her gain 50 WTA rating points that will improve her ranking from the current 989 to 570. “My target is to play more ITF tournaments and the aim is to achieve below 300 ranking in the world,” she added. She also thanked Prahlad Kumar Jain, her former coach, who is a great support.