Chance for Gen X to sparkle

Chance for Gen X to sparkle

Badminton Senior Nationals

Absence of stars will boost young guns’ hopes in championships

Limbering up: PSPB’s Aditi Mutatkar during a practice session ahead of the National badminton championship at Karnataka Badminton Association courts in Bangalore. DH PHOTOWith the country’s top players opting out of the Senior National badminton championships and a young crop of talent stepping up to stake its claim, it could be anybody’s cup of joy when the premier meet begins at the Karnataka Badminton Association courts here on Tuesday.

The absence of Saina Nehwal, Jwala Gutta, Ashwini Ponnappa and V Diju has thrown the title race wide open with no hot favourites in all categories of the 76th edition of the Rs 5 lakh prize money Open event which will kick off with a two-day qualifying phase from the morrow. The five-day main draw starts on Saturday after the 67th Inter-State championships, scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

The absence of world-class players will give the young shuttlers a chance to run the seasoned campaigners, defending men’s champion Arvind Bhat who is seeded ninth, and local lad Anup Sridhar, the 2006 winner, a run for their money.

“The youngsters are playing really well, so you can’t point out a favourite. I train at the KBA regularly, so it is an advantage,” said Arvind on the eve of the championships.

The likes of the top two seeds, Sourabh Varma and B Sai Praneeth, and the ever-improving Ajay Jayaram, currently the top-ranked Indian male with a world ranking of 27, have gained a lot of confidence in the past few years on the national circuit and will be keen to finish on top of the podium.

The same can be said about the women’s section where the absence of Saina, the runner-up here in 2006 behind Aparna Popat, has given her Gopichand Academy team-mate PV Sindhu a chance to take home her maiden National crown. The in-form 16-year-old Sindhu, ranked 30 in the world, won four international titles in 2011 and has a slight edge over her opponents.
Defending women’s champion Aditi Mutatkar, the fourth seed, and top seed PC Thulasi will have to be on top of their game to have any hopes of a title triumph.

The seedings hardly matter this year, the Badminton Association of India coming up with a new approach based on rankings derived from performances in the all India tournaments. That means many of the shuttlers who are regulars on the international circuit have gone without a seeding.

It is now obvious that the country’s leading international shuttlers will not play in the Open event. However, there still remain doubts that these ace shuttlers will join their respective employers without taking the court in the Inter-State meet which will be held on a knockout format with eight teams each in the men’s and women’s sections. “I don’t think Saina will play, she has just come back from Malaysia,” said her coach P Gopichand when asked about her participation.

Seedings:

Men: Sourabh Varma (PSPB) 1; Sai Praneeth (PSPB) 2; Mohit Kamat (Railways) 3; HS Prannoy (PSPB) 4; Pratul Joshi (AI) 5; Arvind Bhat (PSPB) 6; Sumeeth Reddy B (AAI) 7; Nandagopal K (AAI) 8.

Doubles: Tarun K/ Arun Vishnu (PSPB) 1; Pranav Chopra/ Akshay Dewalkar (PSPB/ AI) 2; Deepak Khatri/ Akshit Mahajan (Rly/ Har) 3; Manu Attri/ Hemanagendra Babu (AI/ AP) 4. 

Women: PC Thulasi (Kerala) 1; Neha Pandit (AAI) 2; Sayali Gokhale (AI) 3; Aditi Mutatkar (PSPB) 4; Dhanya Nair (Railways) 5; Arundhati Pantawane (PSPB) 6; Anita Ohlan (Railways) 7; Mohita Sahdev (AAI) 8.

Doubles: Aparna Balan/ Sikky Reddy N (PSPB/ AAI) 1; Pradnya Gadre/ Prajakta Sawant (AI/ PSPB) 2; Maneesha K/ Jyotsna P (AP) 3; Varsha Belawadi/ Nischitha GM (Karnataka) 4.

Mixed doubles: Arun Vishnu/ Aparna Balan (PSPB) 1; Pranav Chopra/ Prajakta Sawant (PSPB) 2; Akshay D/ Pradnya Gadre (AI) 3; Guruprasad/ Nischitha GM (Karnataka) 4.

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