After bursting onto the top echelons of Indian Women’s Tennis by winning the twin titles in Nigeria in 2018, Pranjala’s journey had hit a roadblock in 2019 with injuries pushing her away from the Pro tour for more than an year now. A trainee of the Impact Tennis Academy, Pranjala has been going through a rehab program in Melbourne with her physio Paul Ness and ably supported by the Go Sports Foundation. 

Coming back from a long hiatus, Pranjala made a return to the Tennis courts with the 3-match participation in the UTR Pro Tennis – Melbourne series and ended up winning all her matches to win the title. ITD interviewed Pranjala on the back of her title win against Desirae Krawczyk (World No. 37 in doubles) to get her thoughts on the recovery journey so far. 

Match 3: Pranjala Yadlapalli (UTR – 11.68) d Desirae Krawczyk (WTA – 37 – Doubles) 63 63

Match 2: Pranjala Yadlapalli (UTR – 11.68) d Amy Stevens (UTR – 10.00) 62 63

Match 1: Pranjala Yadlapalli (UTR – 11.68) d Stefani Webb (UTR – 9.00) 64 63

Your thoughts on the final – you had a solid win against a top-40 doubles player today. 

She is a very solid player. Hits the ball flat and hard. She is a lefty and has that lefty’s slice serve on the ad court to drag you out of the court. 

It was a good match for me – I was able to manage well against her angles, speed and depth. She is pretty good at the net as well. I had to continuously push her with my strokes because whenever I dropped my intensity in a rally, she was good at finishing the points. So I focused on hitting it hard and deep and to move her out of her comfort zone. 

I was feeling much better today compared to the last two matches. I was serving better today as well as my first serve percentage was pretty high. 

Leaving aside one match in Solapur, you last played more than an year back in May 2019. How has this rehab work in Melbourne been for you?

It has been a really long time. With regards to rehab, we focused on building the base. To compete on the courts again, it felt good, it was a pretty good level as well. After every match, I was feeling a bit sore as I hadn’t been practicing much. I was doing fine fitness wise but tennis wise, I didn’t know many tennis players around. 

In this tourney, in the first match, I was a bit rusty and missed a lot. It got better in the second match and it was even better in the final today. I could feel the ball better and was more confident with my strokes today. I was serving and moving better too. 

In the past, when I was playing in Solapur or Uzbekistan, I wasn’t feeling this good. My body was pretty restricted then. I had started serving only from the past 3 sessions by doing 100 serves a session. My left leg is slightly sore with all the jumps and serving in the matches but I could push through that. 

I didn’t anticipate that I could play even this standard of tennis this early but it feels great to be back on court and compete again. 

Can you share some detail on the rehab work specifics?

When I first came over, Paul focused a lot on hands-on-treatment. In the initial few days, we just worked on core and then we went to gym and gradually built it up. He didn’t really put any restrictions as such. We initially focused on the upper body strength. I was doing a lot of running as well to keep my body lighter – it involved running on the beach, the stairs, ramps and so on. 

We focused on the basics as our goal was to activate the muscles. Gradually we built it up by adding more weights or reps. Paul focused on making my back move as it was restricted when I first came here. He wanted it to get free and so did lot of hands on training as such. My back has started to feel much better now. 

Paul was not only aiming for my back but on the overall body. The shoulder, the back, the legs and everything. The focus was on getting the overall body into shape which was important.

How has your tennis practice been over the last month or two as Melbourne started opening up a bit? Have you had an opportunity to hit with some of the local players?

I came here in mid of February and for the first month, I didn’t play any tennis. Then I started off with wall practice. Then we moved onto 1-2 sessions of tennis with Himakesh (studying at the Monash University) coupled with a session of wall practice. Slowly we moved to 3 sessions combined. 

Over the past two weeks, we found an academy at Beaumaris – SETA Tennis. Since then, I have been doing 3 sessions, it was on clay. Each session for 2 hours and I didn’t play any practice matches before this tourney. The day before my first match, I hit for an hour on the indoor courts. That’s it and I started competing from Saturday. 

I couldn’t get to play with any of the local players as I didn’t know any of them here and the National Tennis Center was closed too. 

What’s coming up next – any tourneys that you are playing in Australia?

There are 3 events back-to-back with few days in between. This event was week 1. The pool B 2nd week is from the 15th to the 18th of July. The 3rd week will be after a few days break. I will be playing those if I get a place. The first priority for the tourney is Australian players and then the UTR. Hopefully I can get in and play a few matches again. 

Have you reviewed your matches?

I reviewed my matches on YouTube. It really helped my game to review these matches with Stephen Koon and Paul Ness, discuss the learnings and implement them for the next matches. I need to thank Paul and Stacy for taking such good care of me – picking up and dropping off and so on too. I am living in Brighton and would be moving to Beaumaris soon. It will be right opposite to the Tennis club and so hopefully I can do a few more sessions. 

I need to thank GoSports Foundation for making this trip happen and supporting me in every way possible. 

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