Chamarthi Sai Samhitha was awarded the qualifying wild card for the inaugural WTA 250 Chennai Open. Chamrthi had earned this wild card as a finalist of the Tamil Nadu State Tennis Championships in July 2022.
On the backdrop of maiden tour debut, Srividya Balayogi of ITD caught up with her to get her views
Congratulations on making your WTA Tour debut! How was the experience?
I thank ITD for interviewing me. So this is my first WTA experience in Chennai. And Chennai gave me that opportunity, I should be thankful to them and TNTA has been supporting me from a young age. And now this opportunity they gave me is really a proud moment for me because it gave me a lot of exposure and experience. Now I know what to work on. What we’re lacking from the foreign players. I see game-wise we are really good, we can get close to them. If we can work on the physical and mental aspects, we will also be able to get to them.
How do you review the surface and the conditions?
It was well organised. TNTA always organises the tournaments well. I’m happy that they conducted a women’s tournament. It was always ATP. From a small age when I was playing under 14, I used to come and watch all the big players. Nadal used to come. Somdev, Ramkumar, and everybody became players from here. So I’m actually proud that I played on these courts. And I have to thank the TNTA for this opportunity for my hard work all these years.
How was the match from your perspective, any key moments that you will think back on?
Yeah, I started off well. 1-0 and then 1-1. But the third game of the first set went for 25 deuces and my opponent got the game. I was always up in the advantage, I was up almost 10 times, she was up three times, but the fourth time, she converted it. So I feel that’s where the momentum shifted towards her. And after that she didn’t give me a chance. She was hitting good angles. Maybe I got a bit blank in my mind after that. I was thinking about that game, maybe I shouldn’t have thought and been in the present. So that’s the key thing I would take. Whatever happens in the tennis match always, come back to the present. Don’t think of the past and don’t think of the future. So that’s what I learned from that match. Because I worked hard for almost one and a half months, and I wanted to do my best. But my opponent did well, she was very consistent. She served really well, I couldn’t return properly. Maybe if I got that game, things could have been better.
What was the game plan coming into the match?
Because I didn’t know many of these players, I didn’t have a game plan. I just wanted to give my best and believe in myself. Because I feel I always slice well. So, that’s my strength and I’m an aggressive player. But that day, I couldn’t play aggressively because she was more aggressive than me, so I didn’t get a chance. So game plan wise I just wanted to do my best and fight for each and every point.
Taking back a step into your tennis journey, what made you take up the sport in the first place?
So when I first travelled for the U14 Fed Cup in Indonesia when we finished fifth place. After seeing all the players there and how they treat you. It’s like tennis is such a nice sport. I get to meet all the players and at that time I realised that I want to really work hard and be a tennis player. Then I won many tournaments after that: U-16 national champion, U14 national champion, U18 Fennesta national champion and doubles, I’ve won many. So, that inspired me to take it along. Even though I had a lot of struggles as a tennis player. Tennis has taught me a lot of lessons.
At what point did you want to start pursuing it seriously?
Yeah, after the Fed cup, after winning nationals, and I also played ITF juniors. Once I went to Guwahati travelling 42 hours, I won the match in doubles and then I wanted to take it seriously. I wanted to go to the next level. I’m still finding my way to the next level, but still whatever I have achieved I feel it’s good with my struggles. Because I’ve travelled in non-reservations, always travelling in trains in my junior days. Now I’m fine, I’m travelling well and that hard work is paying off now.
What is your schedule going to be like for the rest of the year?
I’m planning to play the National Games representing Tamil Nadu. Then nationals in Delhi, I’m just waiting to play my best tennis in these two games. And then there are a few ITF tournaments coming in India, so I’ll be playing them.
What are your hobbies?
Watching movies, listening to music and reading
Dream opponent and why?
Caroline Garcia. I’d like to play her because she’s too good and the way she moves on the court.
I’m a food lover, so be it Indian, continental anything. I like butter chicken.
Fav tennis court surface
Hard Courts and Grass Courts
Fav sport (non-tennis)
The song that has been on continuous loop for you
Dream travel destination
Best win of your career
I’ve beaten Yana Sizikovai who was ranked 340 in Egypt around 4 years ago. And then I’ve beaten Julia Terziyska who was around 400 ranking. So those were my good wins.
A loss that hurt you the most
Many losses. I was always up in a few matches and then I had a match point and then I lost. I can’t sleep for the next one week. I’ve lost many matches like that. In my junior days, under-18, I had 10 match points and I lost that match. Even recently, I played state ranking in Chennai, I had 2 match points and I lost. I’ve had many losses like that.
Best friend on the tennis circuit
I have so many, so I can’t name them
Most adventurous travel experience so far
Travelling in trains and in 2019 I travelled to Europe. I was on the train and suddenly one lady came to me and she asked “Where is my phone?”. I replied, “Oh my God, I don’t have your phone.” She had it in her bag. But I got scared, so that was a little bit of a bad experience.