Flypower soar high in final

Warriors beat Challengers for title

Just 24 hours after they ousted favourites and big-spending Aratt Fighters 3-2 in a thrilling semifinal encounter, the Warriors once again rose to the occasion, knocking down the spirited Challengers 3-1 at the Karnataka Badminton Association courts.

Challengers, who had lost just one match so far in seven appearances, got off the blocks in bumpy fashion after doubles specialist turned singles player Suraj RN battled past Rameshwar Mahapatra 23-21, 19-21, 21-13 in a high-intensity clash that took almost an hour to finish.

Sindhu Bharadwaj then strolled past the tournament’s Most Valuable Player Arsheen Syeda Saadath 21-11, 21-17 to pull the Warriors level before the in-form doubles pair of Dhruv Shanbag and Apeksha Nayak defeated the combine of Abhijeet Naimpally and Sangeetha Mari 21-15, 23-21 to make it 2-1.

Talented teenager Rajas Jawalkar finally put the icing on the cake for the Warriors as he beat Phalgun BS in a 21-14, 21-15 in a lop-sided clash to seal the issue for Warriors with a rubber to spare. Warriors earned a cheque of Rs 5 lakh while the Challengers were richer by Rs 2 lakh.

Despite ending up with the losing side, Suraj’s humdinger of a clash against Mahapatra was easily the best rubber of the finale. With the legendary Prakash Padukone watching the youngster coupled with the pressure of getting his team off to a good start, Suraj was a touch nervous to begin with.

But once he got his rhythm going, the youngster was a treat to watch, dishing out a wonderful combination of attacking and defensive badminton. Brilliant from back of the court and assured at the net, Suraj tested Mahapatra, who somehow found ways to stay in the contest despite not possessing any major weapons.

After going toe-to-toe until the halfway stage of the opening game, Suraj took off in a blaze to open up a command 14-9 lead. A few unforced errors saw Mahapatra make a stirring fightback as the scores read 20-20. Suraj, however, maintained his composure during the crucial phase to pocket the opener on his second game point with a superb smash.

Mahapatra quickly shrugged off the opening game disappointment and galloped to a 4-1 lead in the second before sealing the game in tense fashion to push the contest into the decider.

Suraj then had the final say, polishing off Mahapatra to put the Challengers ahead 1-0.

Results: Flypower Warriors bt HB Challengers 3-1 (Rameshwar Mahapatra lt to Suraj RN 23-21, 19-21, 21-13; Sindhu Bharadwaj bt Arsheen Syeda Saadath 21-11, 21-17; Dhruv Shanbag/ Apeksha Nayak bt Abhijeet Naimpally/ Sangeetha Mari 21-15, 23-21; Rajas Jawalkar bt Phalgun BS 21-14, 21-15).

Individual awards: Most valuable player: Arsheen Syeda Saadath (HB Challengers); Best men’s singles player: Rohan Castelino (Aratt Fighters); Best women’s singles player: Jacqueline Rose Kunnath (Aratt Fighters); Best men’s doubles player: Guruprasad (HB Challengers); Best mixed doubles player (male): Abhinand Shetty (Li Ning Lions); Best mixed doubles player (female): Nitya Sosale (Li Ning Lions); Most promising player (male): Praveen (White Peacock); Most promising player (female): Mahima Agarwal (Team Cane Boutique).

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