Prannoy storms into title round

Badminton Junior Nationals

Sumeet of Andhra Pradesh, the top-ranked player in the boys’ section, couldn’t withstand third seed HS Prannoy’s assault, losing 24-26, 19-21 in the semifinals at the PET Sports Complex courts.

“We train together at the Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad, so we know each other’s game plans. There is nothing to read in the seedings. Whoever plays better on the day will win and today, I played better than Sumeet,” said Prannoy, who will meet second seed B Sai Praneeth of AP in Monday’s final.

Minutes later, top-seeded Kerala shuttler Thulasi made her way out of the championship, bowing to PV Sindhu of Andhra Pradesh after a gruelling battle. The fourth-seeded Sindhu eked out a 22-20, 18-21, 21-10 win in a 49-minute contest. In the title round, Sindhu will take on second-seeded State-mate N Sikki Reddy, a 21-11, 21-13 winner over Daya Elsa Jacob of Kerala.

Prannoy, who had conquered Prakash Jolly in the quarterfinals, was tentative to start with and trailed by four points at 1-5. The Air India lad got into his groove with a string of powerful smashes and went ahead for the first time in the match when Sumeet hit a backhand into the net.

The pendulum swung to and fro until 18-all, when Sumeet came up with a peach of a point followed by a smash to move to within a point of taking the first game. The 19-year-old retrieved an attempted drop from Prannoy at full stretch inches from the ground before placing it across the court, leaving his rival stranded.

Prannoy fought back and saved two game points before going on to win the first game when Sumeet hit a backhand return into the net.

With one game under his belt, a confident Prannoy played an aggressive game that proved fruitful.

Sai brushed aside a strong challenge from K Nandagopal of Railways, the fourth seed, 21-16, 18-21, 21-18 in the other boys’ last four encounter.

The Karnataka challenge ended with the mixed doubles pair of Kamaldeep Singh and Poorvisha S Ram going down to the Air India-Maharashtra combine of Pranav Chopra and Prajakta Sawant 6-21, 8-21 in the semis. Karnataka’s D Sunil Verma and P Naveen Kumar of AP lost to Sumeet and Prannoy 10-21, 11-21 in the boys’ doubles last four.

Results (prefix number denotes seeding, all semifinals):

Boys’ singles: 3-HS Prannoy (AI) bt 1-B Sumeet Reddy (AP) 26-24, 21-19; 2-B Sai Praneeth (AP) bt 4-K Nandagopal (Rly) 21-16, 18-21, 21-18. Doubles: 2-B Sumeet Reddy/ HS Prannoy (AP/AI) bt D Sunil Verma/ P Naveen Kumar (Kar/AP) 21-10, 21-11; B Sai Praneeth/ Pranav Chopra (AP/ AI) bt C Rohit Yadav/ N V S Vijetha (AP) 21-12, 21-14.

Girls’ singles: 2-N Sikki Reddy (AP) bt 11-Daya Elsa Jacob (Ker) 21-11, 21-13; 4-PV Sindhu (AP) bt 1-PC Thulasi (Ker) 22-20, 18-21, 21-10. Doubles: 5-Gauri Ghate/ Prajakta Sawant (Mah) bt Daya Elsa Jacob/ Sanyogita Ghorpade (Ker/ Mah) 21-19, 21-19; 1-N Sikki Reddy/ P C Thulasi (AP/ Ker) bt 4-Megha Merin, Ninan/ P S Linymol (Ker) 21-15, 21-10.

Mixed doubles: 2-Pranav Chopra/ Prajakta Sawant (AI/Mah) bt Kamaldeep Singh/ Poorvisha S Ram (Kar) 21-6, 21-8; 1-K Nandagopal/ Megha Merin Ninan (Rly/Ker) bt Sourav Chatterjee/ Sheshadri Sanyal (WB) 21-14, 21-7.

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