Jeevan, Prerna triumph

Jeevan, Prerna triumph

Jeevan Nedun-chezhiyan and Prerna Bhambri won the men’s and women’s singles title of the Fenesta National tennis championship at the Delhi Lawn Tennis Association (DLTA) complex on Saturday.

Prerna, seeded second, had clawed her way back from two match points in the second set tie-break to get into the driver’s seat with a 2-6, 7-6 (9-7), 4-1 lead when her opponent, top-seeded Rishika Sunkara retired citing fever.

Jeevan then overcame a doughty Arjun Kadhe 7-6 (7-4), 6-1 in a quality fare.
In the women’s final, both Prerna and Rishika began uncertainly on their serves. Prerna, specially looked tight and struggled with her rhythm, losing the opening set without holding her serve even once.

Her fortunes continued to plummet in the second as she fell behind 2-5 but regrouped to enforce a tie-break. She saved two match points at 6-4, thanks to backhand errors from Rishika, before earning her first set point in the match at 7-6.  She evened out things three points later with a crunching backhand down the line shot.

In the decider, Prerna raced to a 4-1 lead when Rishika decided to withdraw, making Prerna the champion after a two-hour-20 minute tussle. “I won five years ago in Chandigarh (junior nationals). I feel I am at my peak,” said Delhi girl Prerna, who will be playing at the Asia-Pacific Australian Open play-offs in China next week.

The men’s final was comparatively a brisk affair though it never looked a probability in the first set. Both Jeevan and Arjun played to a standstill, stroking fluently and serving with purpose. There was little to take away from either as the set rolled into a tie-breaker.  In the tie-breaker, Jeevan broke away from 2-2 and kept his errors in check to go up with a delectable backhand volley. 

He took the confidence to the second set and was soon cracking winners all over the court as the 18-year-old Arjun began to show signs of wearing off. Jeevan quickly took a 5-1 lead before closing the match with a searing backhand winner.

Bonus for women

The organisers also decided to bring the prize money of women’s singles finalists on par with men from this year. The announcement came during the prize distribution ceremony following a suggestion from Sania Mirza, who was the chief guest. Prerna will also get a wildcard to the main draw of the $125, 000 WTA tournament in Delhi while Rishika will be given a wildcard to qualifying event. Both Jeevan and Prerna took home Rs 1.5 lakh each.

Results (finals): Men: Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan bt Arjun Kadhe 7-6 (7-4), 6-1. Women: Prerna Bhambri bt Rishika Sunkara 2-6, 7-6 (9-7), 4-1 (retd). Boys U-18: Rishabh Aggarwal bt Karan Salwan 6-1, 6-2. Girls U-18: Pranjala Yadlapalli bt Tarannum Handa 6-7 (8-10), 6-0, 7-5.

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