Jennifer Luikham beat Suhitha Maruri 6-3, 6-3 to clinch the title in the UTR Pro $25,000 women’s tennis tournament at the DLTA Complex here on Sunday.
The 23-year-old Jennifer, ranked 721 in the world, was rewarded for winning all her six matches in the tournament with a prize of $3,600. It was the biggest prize of her professional career for Jennifer who has a classical style of play and a fluent game.
She did struggle with lack of pace from her shrewd opponent who served well and placed her strokes judiciously, but Jennifer stayed calm to pull through. It was the fighting qualities of Suhitha and the fluctuating quality of Jennifer’s game, as she struggled with her timing, that made it an interesting contest.
Jennifer did lead 4-1 in both the sets but lost her grip by losing two more games both the times before tightening her grip to close it out.
Once she starts striking the slow balls with equal felicity as much as she does against quick pace, Jennifer will be winning a lot of matches. The sprayed shots also took the sting away from her game at times and it reflected in her serves as well.
“I am happy to win this title at home. I enjoyed playing the tournament. I will now go and train with my long-time coach Aditya Sachdeva at the RoundGlass Academy in Chandigarh and try to do well in the professional circuit”, said Jennifer.
For the 17-year-old Suhitha who does not have a WTA rank, it was a big bonus in terms of competing at this level and getting $2,075 for her efforts. A trainee of Rohan Bopanna Academy, Suhitha kept fighting in every match and was quick on her feet in beating a clutch of good players.
Sai Samhitha who had lost to Suhitha in the opening league match cruised to the fifth place and bagged the same prize of $1,225 as that of the two semifinalists, Jagmeet Kaur Grewal and Akanksha Nitture.
Likewise, Bela Tamhankar finished ninth to win $950, Hitamakya Singh placed 13th to pocket $750 and Kavya Khirwar was 17th in collecting $575.
With six matches assured apart from prize money, it was a healthy exercise for the players to boost the quality of their game and get ready for tougher challenges.
The results (final): Jennifer Luikham bt Suhitha Maruri 6-3, 6-3.