It was a good week for Indian tennis players at ITF events in Gwalior and Mumbai respectively with Sriram Balaji, Niki Kaliyanda Poonacha, Shahbaaz Khan and Ankita Raina all coming away with trophies over the weekend.
Sriram Balaji Wins Second ITF Futures Title of the Season
Top seeded Balaji lived up to his billing as he defeated Mohit Mayur 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3 in the singles final of this week’s ITF Futures event in Gwalior. This was Balaji’s second ITF title of the season and his sixth overall.
The win caps off a good run for Balaji in the past three weeks where he also reached the final in Kolkata and the semis in Raipur.The 24-year-old Indian will now head to play for the Mumbai franchise in the Champions Tennis League which also features former World No. 5 Tommy Robredo and WTA Top 20 player Alize Cornet.
The doubles title was won by the unfancied pairing of 19-year-old Niki Kaliyanda Poonacha and 22-year-old Shahbaaz Khan, who upset the third seeds Kaza Vinayak Sharma/ Vijay Sundar Prashanth 6-2, 6-3. This was the first ITF title of any kind for either player.
Ankita Raina Wins Doubles Title in Mumbai
Meanwhile, at the women’s ITF $25K event in Mumbai, India’s Ankita Raina walked away with the doubles title with Chinese partner Lu Jia-Jing. Raina/ Jia-Jing defeated the Thai pairing of Nicha Lertpitaksinchai and Peangtam Plipuech 6-4, 1-6 (11-9). This is Raina’s second ITF doubles title of the year. The 21-year-old is India’s top-ranked singles player currently and No. 2 Indian in doubles, after Sania Mirza.
Meanwhile, the singles title was won by Russia’s Marina Melnikova, who beat Slovakian Tadeja Majeric 6-2 7-6 (7-4) in Saturday’s final. The win will see the 25-year-old Russian move into the Top 200 of the world rankings and into the Australian Open qualifying draw.