Sam Houston sophomores Sahaja Yamalapalli and Karla De La Luz Montalvo each have produced impressive performances in summer women’s tennis tournament competition during the past few weeks.
Yamalapalli won her second consecutive singles championship and a doubles title as well at the AITA Championships in another Telangana State Tennis Association event in her home town of Hyderabad, India. Unseeded again, the Bearkat star powered her way through the qualifying rounds without dropping a set.
She rolled to five consecutive victories, winning 10 of the 11 sets she played in the main draw. Yamalapalli defeated No. 4 seed Moulika Ram 6-2 2-6 6-1 in her first round. She followed up with 6-0 6-1 wins over Likhitha Landa and Sonashe Bhatnager in the second and third round, respectively. Next, she topped Likhitha Kalava 6-1- 7-5 in the semifinals and No. 1 seed Prathiba Prasan Narayan in the championship finals.
Two of her victories came over players ranked among the top 50 women in India. Narayan entered the event ranked No. 20 and Ram stood number 44 in her country’s women’s rankings. Yamalapalli won her previous tournament title in June without dropping a set. She paired with Y. Sai Dedeepka for the doubles championship in the second event.
De La Luz Montalvo reached the finals of the Oracle ITA Summer Circuit tournament hosted by UT-Tyler July 2. She defeated Lauren Rich 6-4 6-2 in the second round, Ally Maciel 6-3 6-2 in the quarterfinals and Anna Harvey 6-4 6-2 in the semifinals. No. 1 seed Domonique Garley had to win a super tie-breaker 7-5 after splitting sets with De La Luz Montalvo in the finals.
A week later the Bearkat sophomore reached the semi-finals of the ITA Summer Circuit event in Dallas. She defeated Jordan Henry 6-2 7-6 (5) in the quarter-finals before falling to No. 2 seed Delara Zanani 6-2 7-6 (4) in the semis.
During the 2017-18 season at Sam Houston, Yamalapalli rolled up a 22-4 won-loss record in tournament and dual match play combined, the third highest victory total ever by a Bearkat freshman. Her 16-4 mark in dual match competition alone tied the school record set by Irina Sotnikova in 2006.
De La Luz Montalvo joins the Bearkats this fall as a transfer from Louisiana Tech where she played No. 1 singles as a freshman. She ranked No. 13 in Texas playing for Cinco Ranch High School. She is a native of Vera Cruz, Mexico.