The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

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

Despite only representing the Red and Blue for a little under two months, Penn women's tennis freshman Esha Velaga is already making a mark on the collegiate tennis scene. Following an outstanding performance at the ITA Northeast Super Regional tournament on Oct. 22, Velaga secured herself a spot at the upcoming ITA Nationals in San Diego.

Taking place this weekend, the tournament will bring together 32 of the nation’s top collegiate players, each vying for the national title. Velaga will be the sole Quaker to compete in this event, and heading into the tournament, one of her main goals was to maintain a positive mindset.

In terms of preparation, Velaga has been sticking to the basics during practice. On the court, she has been focusing on practicing her skills, constantly improving, and maintaining a quality level of success. 

“My practice has been very similar," she said. "I have just been working on things I need to improve on, such as staying focused, being consistent, and working hard every day." 

Heading into the final round of the Super Regionals, Velaga faced a unique situation. She was slated to face her sister Neha who plays for Princeton and also qualified for this weekend's Nationals. Although Esha emerged victorious in two sets, she noted that it was hard to ignore the mix of emotions that accompanied the match. 

“[Playing against my sister] was definitely a new experience," Velaga said. "It was a little bit awkward to say the least, as neither of us wanted to be beating the other but it was nice since we both get to play in the final in San Diego.”

Aside from tennis being a sport that brings her family together, tennis has also been a part of Velaga’s life for a long time, and she has consistently leaned into this experience to excel at the collegiate level. 

“I have been playing tennis since I was five years old, and I have been competing since I was eight, so it’s definitely been a while,” Velaga said. 

Now, with over a decade of tennis experience under her belt, Velaga has entered a new chapter of her career as a Quaker and is already adjusting well to the new level of competition. But this weekend, she's just excited to compete and looks forward to making those who support her on and off the court proud. 

“I am excited to go out to play [at Nationals] and have fun and see what happens.”