West Bloomfield’s Yarlagadda is state’s No. 1

Freshman wins No. 1 singles tennis championship

By: Christian Davis | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published June 12, 2016

 West Bloomfield High's Anika Yarlagadda finished the season undefeated and with the Division 1 No. 1 singles state title. The freshman never dropped a set.

West Bloomfield High's Anika Yarlagadda finished the season undefeated and with the Division 1 No. 1 singles state title. The freshman never dropped a set.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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Anika Yarlagadda found herself in an unfamiliar spot.

The West Bloomfield High freshman was trailing 4-1 in the second set of the No. 1 singles state championship match June 4 in Midland.

Yarlagadda had already won the first set against Grosse Pointe South’s Raven Neely 6-1 as expected. After all, Yarlagadda hadn’t lost a match this season or even a set.

“I told myself, I have nothing to lose. … I have three more years to win a state championship, stop putting pressure on myself. I just focused on my match and didn’t worry about anything else,” she said.

Yarlagadda found her groove.

“I went for more, I was more calm, I didn’t get as mad as I was before,” she said. “After I calmed down, I won more points and won the match.”

Yarlagadda finished the championship set 6-4. She said it was a relief to finish the perfect year.

“I had a lot of pressure, because I was supposed to win. Everyone expected it, so if I didn’t, I feel like I would have let a lot of people down,” she said. “But I felt confident. I played my game.”

Yarlagadda describes her style as defensive, putting pressure on her opponents with returns and waiting for them to make a mistake.

“I usually don’t miss and go for shots when I have to,” she said. “I’m like a wall.”

Yarlagadda hasn’t made a decision yet if she’ll return to high school tennis next season or focus more on playing national tournaments.

“It’d be great to win three more state titles, but I’m also missing a bunch of (national) tournaments,” she said.

Whether she goes for two in a row or not next season, this year’s title is one to remember.

“It feels really good. Everyone has been very happy for me. The title, it’s really nice to have on my belt,” she said. “My team was really good to me too, and I made friends on the team. I really enjoyed high school tennis.”

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