Chandigarh: Sanam K Singh clinched the ITF Men`s Future USD 10,000 tennis tournament after defeating N Sriram Balaji 7-5, 6-3 in the singles final on Saturday.
After trailing 2-5 in the first set, 24-year-old Sanam, the product of CLTA, made a strong comeback to prevail upon the 21-year-old at the Chandigarh Lawn Tennis Association stadium.
The duo were involved in some long rallies but the unseeded Sanam, who had earlier beaten top seed Vishnu Vardhan en route to the final, held his nerve.
Balaji won the toss and opted to serve. He held his serve to win the first game before breaking the service of Sanam in the second game.
Balaji then went on to hold his serve and win the next game. Sanam came back to win the fourth game easily.
Down 2-5, Sanam showed brilliant resilience to level the first set at 5-5. At this stage, Balaji started faltering and Sanam took full advantage of it catching Balaji on the wrong foot on several occasions with some deft passing shots.
Balaji was having difficulty with his service and Sanam pounced on his weakness and wrapped up the first set 7-5.
In the second set, Sanam broke Balaji`s service in the third game and gained in confidence. He forced his opponent into many unforced errors and served some aces.
The second set saw long rallies from base line which was cheered by a handful of crowd, mostly comprising of school students of a local government school. Sanam finally wrapped-up the set 6-3.
Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda was also present as the chief guest while CLTA`s chief patron Rajan Kashyap was also there.
Hooda later gave away the trophies to the winner and runner-up.
Yesterday, Sanam had stunned his fourth seeded Japanese rival Kento Takeuchi 6-2 6-2 to set up a clash with Balaji.
The chief minister, himself an avid tennis player, lauded the efforts of CLTA for doing great service for promoting the game in northern India and promised to help to get the next Davis Cup tie in Chandigarh whenever India hosted the same.
To upgrade the synthetic courts at CLTA, Hooda announced a grant of Rs 21 lakh from his discretionary quota.
Kashyap said he felt happy to see Sanam winning the event as he has trained for 8-9 years at the CLTA, adding his win will go a long way to inspire other budding talent to do well.
On his win, Sanam told PTI, "I feel quite happy havingwon before the home crowd. This is my first singles title after turning pro last year in Virginia."
"Balaji is tall and has big serve. There were some pressure moments being a final. I had a plan which was not to make too many errors and I just waited for my chances, which helped," he said and praised CLTA in his grooming, stating that "every kid needs a good base to make it big".
"I was here for over 7 years and that laid a good foundation for me. Now, I am trying to get my ranking up and represent India in Davis Cup soon," he said.
Sanam also sees a bright future for Indian tennis.
"We already have some good players. Somdev, Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Rohan Bopanna are just to name a few. Hopefully, Indian tennis will touch new heights."