Samara Signs Four
The class includes two international players, a true freshman and a transfer student in Ikttesh Chahal, Jade Allen, Madison Hromada and Lea Jansen.
Chahal is a Chadigarh, India, native, who enrolled in the Chandigarh Lawn Tennis Academy at the age of nine and has won local tournaments and several All India Tennis Association (AITA) ranking tournaments.
She has reached a career high ITF Junior World ranking of 559 in addition to a U-18 national ranking of 19, a women’s national singles ranking of 48 and a women’s national doubles ranking of 31.
“We’re really excited to have Ikttesh on board,” says Samara. “She had some other good offers and we’re happy she has chosen us. She has a pretty good world ranking, and to be honest, I think it would be quite a bit higher had she had the resources to travel more internationally; she played most of those tournaments in India.”
As captain of her team at Carmel Convent School, Chahal played the No. 1 singles position. She helped guide her team to a silver medal in 2010 at the state nationals and won a gold medal three times in the all-India Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) inter-school competitions.
In September 2010, Chahal partnered with Rutuja Bhosale for three straight wins into the finals of the Grade 4 Hyderabad ITF Junior Doubles tournament held in Hyderabad, India. The duo defeated India’s Snehadevi Reddy, who was ranked as high as 524, and partner Dhruthi Tatachar Venugopal, ranked 684, in the finals with scores of 6-1, 1-6 and 10-8 to win the tournament.
Academically, Chahal graduated in the top 20 of her class.
“She is a great student and a really hard worker,” explains Samara. “She will bring a lot to the program on and off the court. She is very talented and will bring some very good doubles, which we can definitely use.”
Allen will come to Morgantown from London, England where she was ranked in the top 10 in the state of Surrey in the U14’s, U16’s and U18’s and ranked among the top 50 of the U18’s nationally.
“Jade was similar to Ikttesh in the recruiting process because she emailed me with her background and a video of her playing,” says Samara. “She had some other offers too, but again, the comfort level was there. I carry dual citizenship, British being one, and I spent a lot of time in London playing pro tournaments and that was a connection.”
As a competitor for the tennis club Esporta Croydon, Allen qualified for the national championships for the club league. She has trained and competed in various locations internationally, including Spain, France, Portugal and Great Britain. Allen earned MVP at Woodcote High in 2005 and 2006 and competed at the top spot.
“Jade is similar to Madison in how they both play. Jade has more international experience because she plays in France quite a bit and travels a lot,” says Samara. “When I’m recruiting, just as important as hitting a ball is the mentality, the fight, and the heart. I can tell both (Chahal and Allen) these kids have that quality and they’re both great athletes.”
True freshman Hromada hails from Lorain, Ohio. Hromada helped Magnificat High to state championship titles in 2008 and 2010. She went undefeated her freshman season and helped her team to three straight Rocky River Invitational titles from 2007 to 2010.
“Madison is from Ohio and I got to see her play live,” explains Samara. “Within five minutes of seeing her live I thought this kid has a lot of raw talent, a really good upside and she’s feisty. I like that. We need that because that’s something we’re lacking—a little bit of intensity. She’s a diamond in the rough and given some time will surprise a lot of people.”
Hromada also gets it done in the classroom as well, as she was a member of the honor roll all four years.
Jansen is a junior-transfer from Washington State. She posted a 5-4 singles record during the 2010 fall season for the Cougars. In her rookie year, the Valleyford, Wash., native, played in three Pac-10 matches, including one at the Pac-10 tournament. She recorded seven doubles victories and six singles wins her freshman season.
“Lea is coming out of the Pac 10, which you could argue is the best tennis conference in the country. Every other weekend she’s playing Stanford, UCLA, Berkeley and every weekend is a top 40 team,” says Samara. “That in itself, with what she has experienced on a weekly basis for two years, is the highest level there is in college tennis.
Automatically, she will bring the understanding of how good these players are and how hard you need to work. She has a ton of raw talent and is at a point in her career where she has decided she wants to re-dedicate herself and wanted to find somewhere where she felt was the best place to do that.”
At Freeman High, Jansen won the 1A Washington State Championship as a junior in 2009 and won the doubles state championship in 2008. She ranked among the top Pacific Northwest junior players in her age group and was in the top 100 nationally, with a career-high ranking of No. 69. Jansen reached the round of 32 in the 14’s Easter Bowl and reached the round of 64 at the 16’s National Clay Courts.
“The kids we’re bringing in will start laying that foundation,” explains Samara. “We’re bringing in four new kids and there will not be any seniority. They are going to re-establish that pecking order with how they work every day and who comes out on top.
“I feel like we’re getting a lot of raw talent where we just need to take the reins a little bit and show how they can control what they can do a little bit better,” continues Samara. “I think we can go from a team that people wanted to play early on to a team that they don’t want to meet early on.”
The four signees make up coach Samara’s first recruiting class at West Virginia as she enters her second season.
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