WhatsApp opens contacts in SMS app; can't message new contact through WhatsApp

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Registration date
Monday June 21, 2021
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Last seen
June 21, 2021
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I'm using WhatsApp on a Pixel 3a XL running Android 11. I have a new WhatsApp contact saved that I wish to message. I open WhatsApp, click the green text symbol in the lower right corner, click the three dots at upper right, and click contacts. WhatsApp gives me the choices "Open with Contacts" or "Use a different app". The only app listed is AndrOpen Office, so I have to click "Open with Contacts". My list of contacts pops up (we're still in WhatsApp at this point). I click on the person whose phone number I just saved in WhatsApp; on the next screen, a page with my friend's contact info shows up and I click the "Text" symbol. My phone's SMS app opens up. There is no way around it. I can't send a WhatsApp message to my contact. I tried uninstalling WhatsApp, rebooting my phone and reinstalling WhatsApp. I can't find a solution. NOTE: If I had an existing chat with this contact, I could just click on the chat. The problem is with a NEW contact that isn't in the chats because we have not messaged on WhatsApp yet.