The first ever UTR event in India was concluded on Sunday with Jennifer Luikham clinching the title. The event was played at the RK Khanna Tennis Stadium in New Delhi.
Jennifer was the top UTR player in the draw with 10.33 rating and she displayed that throughout this week. She was placed in Group A along with Vanshita Pathania, Sachi Sharma, Bela Tamhankar and Arthi Muniyan.
She topped her group winning all the four matches. Jennifer was drawn to face Jagmeet Grewal in the semis which she won in 3 sets hence setting up the finals with Suhitha Maruri.
Jennifer won the finals in straight sets and also winning her debut UTR event. She also bagged the prize money of $3,600.
We got a chance to interview Jennifer Luikham at DLTA for Indian Tennis Daily [ITD] and below are the excerpts :
Q) Thoughts on this week ?
JL: It’s been a splendid week, I am happy that I have finally won the UTR tournament. It’s my first and to win the first it’s an amazing feeling.
Q) Thoughts on UTR PTT happening in India for the very first time ?
JL: It was my first and as I think it’s a brilliant way of bringing some of the top players together to play one another and have some great match practice which is rewarded with prize money as well.
Q) Will you play UTR events again if organized ?
JL: If there are more and it is of my convenience than sure why not !
Q) We are into the last few weeks of the year. You had a fine season with a finals and couple of semis finish also 2 doubles titles. How do you view this season ?
JL: Well, it’s been a fine run like you said. And hopefully with the experience I’ve gained through these matches and results I hope to do well in the upcoming matches. I have a long way to go.
Q) Tunisia is like your second home now with tournaments almost every week i think it’s also beneficial for the players to get used to the conditions and all. What is your thinking behind playing there for almost half of the season now ?
JL: Its beneficial for everyone in many way. It’s up to them, how they capitalize on it. When there aren’t much options due to personal and professional reasons, you make certain choices to achieve certain goals and I’m glad I had the opportunity to play there for as long as I could.
Q) Mr Gangte, Ambassador of India to Tunisia was seen interacting with the players there last month. He also watched your doubles match live if I am not wrong. How was the conversation ? And how does it help the players when someone from your country meets you at a foreign land ?
JL: It was truly lovely meeting him, especially also because he happen to be from the same state as I am (Manipur). Such an amusing personality.
Eg- He asked me if anyone is sponsoring and so for me i told my parents are and his response was ” in that case you should play better.”
Personally, I think it’s very rejuvenating in a way to meet someone from our country in a foreign land.
Q) AITA has announced organizing 21 Pro tournaments till March next year including 9 ITF women’s event. And India will also be hosting first ever ITF 40K Series in January. How much does it help players to get home tournaments like these ?
JL: This is probably the first time the AITA has taken such a big step or maybe after forever. Having said that this is an opportunity we have always sought for and so we should all be hyped and geared up for it to give our best as it will and I hope it does help us all to spark or to at least see our goals clearer.
Q) What part of your game you are feeling confident about right now and what do you think can be improved more ?
JL: I’m happy with how I’m playing lately but lots of things to build on at the same time.
PS : Jennifer will be playing again at the RK Khanna Tennis Stadium from 1st to 5th December in the Pro Tennis League where she will be competing for the DMG Delhi Crusaders