Sahaja Yamalapalli makes impressive progress in US

Sahaja’s father Bhavani Kumar is proud to point out that Sahaja has won four awards, both for her tennis and excellence in studies. She won the all team Conference No.1 singles player, women’s tennis player of the year 2019, best female sophomore student athlete of 2019 and Most Valuable Player of 2019 awards.

Sahaja Yamalapalli has won the all team Conference No.1 singles player, women’s tennis player of the year 2019, best female sophomore student athlete of 2019 and Most Valuable Player of 2019 awards in the collegiate circuit.   -  Special Arrangement

Her name is not that familiar in the Indian tennis circle, but 18-year-old Sahaja Yamalapalli, a second year student in the Sam Houston State, has already won a bunch of awards in the Collegiate circuit in the US to give a hint about a bright future.

Sahaja’s father Bhavani Kumar is proud to point out that Sahaja has won four awards, both for her tennis and excellence in studies. She won the all team Conference No.1 singles player, women’s tennis player of the year 2019, best female sophomore student athlete of 2019 and Most Valuable Player of 2019 awards.

Back home in Hyderabad for vacation, Sahaja is busy working on her physical fitness and sharpness in tennis, so as to be at her best for the Oracle ITA Masters featuring top NCAA women and men players, to be staged in Malibu, California, from September 26 to 29.

"I play tennis for about three hours with players like Likhitha Kalava, Laxmi Sahithi Utukuru, Humera Shaik, and Bhakti Shah. I do fitness myself under the guidance of my dad’s friend Vinay Kumar, who trains me according to the professional fitness standards’", Sahaja said.

She also swims for an hour, specifically for muscle relaxation.

Obviously, she is pleased to have progressed in tennis after her two-year stint in America.

She said, "I am very happy with my performance so far and with all the accolades that I have won. Also, I am motivated by all these things but not overwhelmed, because there is always something bigger than these to achieve.

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"I am happy that I have made my coaches, parents, and the college feel proud of me. I believe that these awards indicate that I have scope to do even better in professional tennis."

A good college stint in the US can be a solid foundation for tennis, like the way it worked for Mahesh Bhupathi, Somdev Devvarman, Sanam Singh, Manisha Malhotra and Rutuja Bhosale, to name a few.

"I think I am getting ready for the professional circuit in the best possible way in the US. However, when I come to India, I am unable to find a good academy because of lack of financial support. If I can find a sponsor, I can travel for professional tournaments, starting from December which will help me analyse my game and get the rankings’’, she observed.

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Sahaja Yamalapalli is pleased to have progressed in tennis after her two-year stint in America.   -  Special Arrangement



Quite happy with her game, Sahaja stressed that she was focused on improving her fitness to improve her overall game.

Sahaja also spoke on how she coped with home-sickness. She recalled, "It was very tough and emotional in the beginning for me and my parents, because I am the only child. My teammates treated me like their own sister because I was the youngest in the team, and coaches treat us like their daughters. It is like a second home to all of us. This is the reason why I was not home sick, and was able to adjust and learn a lot of things from them. I think Sam Houston State has the best community of people one can ever meet. I am very lucky."

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Even though she has not had much taste of professional tennis, Sahaja takes one’s breath away by saying that her "only goal is to win a Grand Slam".

"I know that it is not an easy goal to achieve but I believe that hard work, dedication and talent can make that possible", she emphasised.

Sania Mirza has already shown the path with a brilliant career, but it calls for courage to even dream of emulating such a career.

The Head coach from Sam Houston State, Robert Hubbard, is happy with the progress of Sahaja.

"Sahaja has worked so hard to accomplish the milestones she has achieved this year and selection to the Oracle ITA Masters is the culmination of all her great effort.", said Hubbard.

Remember the name, Sahaja Yamalapalli. There is a star in the making.

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