As Vaidehi Chaudhari celebrated with her doubles partner and the runners up trophy at the 15K ITF in Bangalore, her mother came down from the stands to take pictures of her. She smiled shyly for the cameras and then hugged her mother. As I watched from afar, I felt there was a something ‘very girl next door’ vibe about her. As I sat down to chat with her, she seemed completely at ease and her charm took over the conversation.

Her mantra is consistency and with her grit and ball placement, she can trouble every opponent that comes her way. At age 21, Vaidehi has in this year made some noteworthy strides in her career. She won the singles and doubles at the Kaushalya Devi Doda ₹2,50,000 AITA tournament in November, reached the quarter finals at the 15K ITF in Bangalore and then the finals in the 15K ITF in Solapur. As with every player ranked outside of the top 100, I left the conversation feeling like we need to consistently and continually invest in our players to give them a fighting chance. But that’s an article for another day. Here we get to know Vaidehi a bit better –

On her Tennis Journey 

I started playing tennis when I was 9. I have been playing for the last 11 years under my coach, Jignesh Rawal, in Ahmedabad. My first international tournament was in 2016. My parents, my coaches have had a big hand behind my journey. My coach Jignesh Rawal is a very dedicated person and very hard working. I normally play more singles, but this is my first 15k doubles final, first ITF women’s final, so it’s a good achievement of the year.

On Funding

I was sponsored by the Sports Authority of Gujarat, but during the last two years, they stopped sponsoring all the players. Tennis is a very expensive game and we have to travel frequently outside India to play. We are middle class people, so its very difficult and we need some sponsorships. Right now we are managing on our own, but we are trying to seek help wherever we can. My dad has been talking to the governments and private sponsors too and tries at every get together to look at opportunities for help.

On Last 2 Years

I suffered from covid and got dengue as well, so i became very weak and I am still not a 100% fit. The last two years have been very hard for all of us with no tournaments and my ranking went down. Now we are excited that they are organising tournaments at the year-end and also in February. I hope to travel to Thailand in January if they organise a tournament there. If things are under control (regarding Covid), then I also plan to go to Germany for training. I train at Alexander Waske Tennis University.

On her Role Models

I like Serena Williams. I like her serve. She just bangs the ball in. (Laughs as she shows me how!) On the men’s side, I like Djokovic. His court coverage is amazing. He reaches every ball, and he is very smart. He keeps it simple and doesn’t try anything different but consistently sends the ball back. In my match against Pranjala (quarter final at 15K ITF at Bangalore), I tried so much and ran so much – for every single ball and kept trying to move her from side to side, but, ultimately, she used her experience to win. I could have won the tournament!

On her Personal Goals

My goal is to play for India in the Fed Cup in 2022. On the WTA rankings, I would like to reach the 600s from 960 (after the 15k ITF at Bangalore). Hope 2022 is better for me!

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