Pranjala Yadlapalli is only 19-Years-Old and is already India`s No.3 Women`s Singles player. I caught up with her in a telephonic conversation as she was playing in the ITF Futures at Shymkent in Kazakasthan. In a typical grueling day, she ended up on the winning side and reached the quarter final of both singles and doubles. Without wasting much time, I started my conversation before she needed to go to the pool, have dinner and mentally prepare herself for the next day`s semi final matches in both singles and doubles.
ME: So finally caught up with the busy tennis professional 😊
Pranjala Yadlapalli: Yes it has been busy last few weeks as I have been both training and playing back to back tournaments.
ME: So where do you train?
Pranjala Yadlapalli: I am trained by Sanjay Kumar Sir at Sunjay Tennis Academy in Hyderabad. Also I train at the Tennis Village in Bangalore where I am mentored by Krishna Bhupathi Sir.
ME: So how did this tennis journey start?
Pranjala Yadlapalli: In my family there was no one who played any sports. I used to go to a nearby tennis court and my coach was also impressed with my game. When I won a tournament in Kavali as a 13-Year-Old I was asked my many to make my profile and send it to Dr GVK Reddy, Founder of GVK. Subsequently, I won the Under-14 Asian Championship and Dr. GVK Reddy being an ardent tennis fan called me to his house to play doubles tennis with him. Seeing my potential, GVK started sponsoring me and thus started my tennis journey on a serious note. I am highly indebted to GVK Sir and whatever I am today, he has such a big role to play in it.
ME: So you have been quite lucky with the sponsorship quite early on?
Pranjala Yadlapalli: Yes. GVK has been sponsoring me for my tournaments that includes travel, stay, food etc. From this year onward, the AP government has been sponsoring my training.
ME: And do you intend to have a travelling coach or a travelling trainer in due course of time?
Pranjala Yadlapalli: I cannot afford either of the two now. So I manage on my own in the tournaments.
ME: With a player like you who often play both singles and doubles on the same day how do you manage to recover for the next day?
Pranjala Yadlapalli: Yes I have to manage it somehow. At least either of my parents travel with me. On rare occasion, my coach also travels with me.
ME: So on a typical grueling day of tennis like today, how did you manage to recover on your own?
Pranjala Yadlapalli: Yes I do it on my own. I played both singles and doubles today so it was a hard. My singles was especially grueling as it was stretched to three sets and my opponent was like a ball machine as she was returning almost everything. Also on the European Clay, the points do not get finished easily.
After my singles match I had a cool down. I went to the tournament physio and had some back massage. Then it was time to go for my doubles match. After finishing my doubles match I used my foam rollers for some massage. Post this interview with you, I will go to the swimming pool 😊
Pranjala Yadlapalli – A serve to reckon with
ME: How different is to play on the Indian Clay from the European Clay.
Pranjala Yadlapalli: OMG! There is a huge difference. Indian Clay is much faster so we are used to finishing the points faster. But European Clay is much slower and you have to grind more. So often you have to switch your style of play.
ME: How is your typical day of training?
Pranjala Yadlapalli: So for example when I am in Bangalore, I train from 6.30 am to 9.30 am at the Tennis Village. Then I take a cab to Peak Performance and I undergo my strength and conditioning training from 12.00 pm to 2.00 pm. I again come back to Tennis Village and train from 4.30 pm tp 6.30 pm.
ME: How about your diet? Are you strict on it?
Pranjala Yadlapalli: I am not that strict in my diet. I eat everything except for junk food. When you are playing abroad, you invariably get good food like fresh fruits and all in the hotels you stay in. When I am training in Bangalore, I eat lunch that is provided at the academy. I stay in the dormitory of the academy along with my mother and whenever we can we have food together.
ME: And who are your role models?
Pranjala Yadlapalli: Roger Federer and Kim Clisters
ME: What are your strengths as a player?
Pranjala Yadlapalli: Strength is my ground strokes. Also I have a good first serve that is flat. However I would like to add variations to my serve.
ME: And how is your on court demeanour? I mean do your sometimes scream and all?
Pranjala Yadlapalli: I always try to stay calm. In fact a lot of people who have watched me play have said that I resemble Roger Federer`s demeanour on court.
ME: What is that you would like to improve upon?
Pranjala Yadlapalli: My movements. Also even though I am fast I would like to be faster.
ME: You have been on the tour for quite a while now. What are the major differences in terms of physical attributes between our players and say European and American players.
Pranjala Yadlapalli: I feel there is not much of a difference. We have better hands but often they might have better legs.They can slide and grind and do not see to finish the point soon. They are more of grinders.
ME: How was your Fed Cup experience?
Pranjala Yadlapalli: It was a great experience as I was making my debut in it. Also it was nice to have won my doubles match for the country.
ME: How do you schedule your tournaments? Also going forward what kind of tournaments are you planning to play?
Pranjala Yadlapalli: I decide after having a discussion with my coach and parents. Also I schedule it in such a manner that I can geographically cover it smartly.
Currently I am playing more of $15K ITF tournaments as I started full fledged Women`s tour only from July last year. Going forward I would like to play more of $25K and $60K ITF tournaments.
ME: Indian players mature by around 25 Years. Typical case being Yuki Bhambri and Ankita Raina. So going by that assumption where would you see youself when you are around 25 Years. I know it is still far- off but still what would your gut feeling say?
Pranjala Yadlapalli: Until then I need to get stronger and do lots of work. Keep myself fit and improve upon my endurance. However, I see myself inside top 100 on the WTA and also try for top 50.
ME: Thank you so much Pranjala for your time and I guess it is time for you to go to the pool and also get mentally prepared for tomorrow.
Pranjala Yadlapalli: Thank yo so much and do keep on promoting Indian tennis.
Autor`s Take – Pranjala is going in the right direction. She is only 19 years but is matured for her age. With time and experience she will only get better.