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Freshman Esha Velaga of Penn women's tennis (Photo courtesy of Esha Velaga).

The Daily Pennsylvanian asked Esha Velaga of Penn women's tennis 15 questions about her sport, her time at Penn, and life overall. Here's what the freshman had to say.

1. Can you introduce yourself?

I’m Esha Velaga. I live in a suburb of Philadelphia, an hour away from here. I’m a freshman majoring in biology in the College on the pre-med track.

2. How do you like Penn so far? Can you tell me one thing you like and dislike?

I really love Penn. One thing I like is just being physically close to Philadelphia and getting to explore. I’m eating often at restaurants here and the food here is amazing. One thing I dislike is the workload, especially coming off my senior year of high school where I had no work. It’s a lot.

3. Why did you choose Penn over other schools?

I really loved the campus and Philadelphia city. There are a lot of places to see here. Also, I loved the tennis team and the coach. Those were a huge factor in my decision. Other than that, since I’m a pre-med student, Penn was an attractive choice with good hospital connections and research involvement.

4. What is your favorite class at Penn so far?

Probably biology class because simply I’m interested in it. Another one is a first-year seminar called Doctor’s Notes. It teaches the role of doctors in society and what it means to be a doctor to help people.

5. What do you usually do in your free time?

In my free time, I like reading, drawing, sketching, and watching Netflix. It’s so nice to spend my time with such activities after doing a lot of work. I’m watching "Gilmore Girls" right now.

6. What is the biggest attractiveness of tennis compared to other sports?

The biggest thing is that you are by yourself on the court, so the mental and physical factor really matters. No one can sub for me, so I have to figure things out by myself. This characteristic was especially important in juniors, and I just tried hard all the time.

7. When and how did you start playing tennis?

I’ve played tennis since I was five years old and started playing competitively at eight years old. I have a sister three years older than me, and my parents had her try out several sports. She eventually stuck to tennis and swimming, so I also got into tennis and swimming because of her. Then, I just naturally progressed to tennis.

8. What is your most memorable tennis moment so far?

There was one national tournament called Easter Bowl that happened this March. I got fifth in it. It was a really awesome experience because the site was where the BNP Paribas Open happens. I was happy to play and also did nice [sic], so it was memorable.

9. Do you have superstitions or rituals that you follow on the match?

I don’t have any superstitions, but I just always bounce the ball four times before I serve. Four is my lucky number.

10. Can you introduce the racket that you use?

It is a Babolat Pure Aero with a 100-square-inch head size. It is the one that Carlos Alcaraz uses. I think it’s the best racket. Babolat’s rackets in general have a lot of power and the Aero specifically gives the ball a lot of spin, so it makes it really hard for the opponent to deal with you.

11. Who is your favorite professional tennis player?

It used to be Roger Federer, but now I really love the way [Novak] Djokovic plays. 

12. Do you feel any differences in playing tennis between high school and college?

Yes. It’s really different. I only played high school tennis for one year, getting involved with individual junior tournaments only. In that, you’re always alone on the court and you are playing for yourself, nobody else. But in college, as being a part of the team, you are not only playing for yourself but also to get your team to win. That’s a huge difference. Being in a team-oriented environment is nice because you are supporting other people and vice versa. You are playing for something bigger than yourself.

13. If you could give one piece of advice for younger you, what would it be?

I would say relax a little bit. I would stress about everything in high school, especially my grades. I would be freaking out for every point off on the grade and my chances to be accepted to college. But that is not how it turned out. So, I’ll say just let myself relax and then enjoy things more.

14. How would you motivate yourself after a tough loss?

I would definitely be upset after a loss. But at the end of the day, I wouldn't want to feel that way again. I would pinpoint specific things I need to work on because I’m really competitive. I want to get that win and if I don’t get it, I will do everything I can to get it. 

15. What are you looking forward to this year?

Getting to be a part of the team and support everybody, getting to play, and trying to get the Ivy League championship. In terms of school, getting to take the classes that I want to and explore my major a lot.