SHSU’s Sahaja Yamalapalli Defends Women’s Tennis Player of the Year Title

Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 11:10 AM CDT
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FRISCO, Texas – Sam Houston’s Sahaja Yamalapalli is the 2021 Southland Conference Women’s Tennis Player of the Year, the league announced Wednesday along with its all-conference teams. All yearly awards are presented by Ready Nutrition.

Just the sixth repeat Player of the Year in league history and the first since 2014, Yamalapalli didn’t lose a single set in solo play en route to a perfect 11-0 mark in Southland matches, a feat last achieved in 2015 by Nicholls’ Stephanie Barnett. She led the Bearkats to a share of the conference championship, the first in program history. Yamalapalli and Roos Gerritsen went 4-1 in league play at top-flight doubles.

A Memphis transfer, New Orleans’ Lina Hohnhold made a statement in her first season in the Southland, going 10-1 against league competition to earn Newcomer of the Year honors. She won eight matches in straight sets, and her only defeat came in a 10-point tiebreak in the third frame against Abilene Christian. The only other two matches that required three sets came against two of the conference’s top four teams in Sam Houston and Central Arkansas.

Another student-athlete making an immediate impact this spring, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s Emma Aucagne nabs Freshman of the Year honors after going undefeated (10-0) against Southland foes. She ended the year on a 12-match winning streak, including eight straight-set victories in conference action. Paired with Emma Honore at No. 2 doubles, the duo posted a 6-2 mark in league play.

Leading New Orleans to its first Southland title in program history, Burzis Kanga was voted the Coach of the Year. The Privateers finished the year 10-1 in conference play, marking the program’s first 10-win conference season. His team earned the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Southland Conference Tennis Tournament.

Eight programs are represented on the all-conference teams, led by Texas A&M-Corpus Christi with six total selections. Central Arkansas, along with conference co-champions New Orleans and Sam Houston, followed with five picks each. Northwestern State and Stephen F. Austin each accounted for two spots on the teams.

First serve of the 2021 Southland Women’s Tennis Tournament is set for 10 a.m. CT Friday at the Beaumont Municipal Tennis Center in Beaumont, Texas. The championship match has a 2 p.m. start on Sunday.

2021 All-Southland Conference Women’s Tennis Teams and Individual Awards

Player of the Year: Sahaja Yamalapalli, Sam Houston

Freshman of the Year: Emma Aucagne, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

Newcomer of the Year: Lina Hohnhold, New Orleans

Coach of the Year: Burzis Kanga, New Orleans

First-Team Singles

No. 1 Sahaja Yamalapalli, Sam Houston2

No. 2 Lina Hohnhold, New Orleans

No. 3 Yada Vasupongchai, Central Arkansas

No. 4 Emma Aucagne, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

No. 5 Emilija Dancetovic, Northwestern State

No. 6 Victoire Delattre, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

Second-Team Singles

No. 1 Ank Vullings, New Orleans

No. 2 Fuka Nonoyama, Central Arkansas2

No. 3 Emma Honore, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

No. 4 Constandena Nicolaou, Sam Houston

No. 5 Leopoldine Boisseau, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

No. 6 Lea Alguacil, New Orleans

Third-Team Singles

No. 1 Putri Insani, Southeastern Louisiana

No. 2 Karla De La Luz Montalvo, Sam Houston

No. 3 Isidora Zivkovic, Sam Houston2

No. 4 Lucy Furness, Stephen F. Austin

No. 5 Salma Abdelrahim, New Orleans

No. 6 Sumomo Hamanaga, Central Arkansas

First-Team Doubles

No. 1 Chunxi Xin/Fuka Nonoyama, Central Arkansas

No. 2 Ank Vullings/Lea Alguacil, New Orleans

No. 3 Karla De La Luz Montalvo/Petra Kaszas, Sam Houston2

Second-Team DoublesNo. 1 Mariya Shumeika/Camille Townsend, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

No. 2 Annie Walker/Paula Cerda, Stephen F. Austin

No. 3 Maja Gledic/Jaeun Lee, Central Arkansas

Third-Team DoublesNo. 1 Nini Memishishi/Illeana Mocciola, Abilene Christian

No. 2 Emma Aucagne/Emma Honore, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

No. 3 Emilija Dancetovic/Dorota Szczygielska, Northwestern State

2 – Two-time all-conference selection