Ashwini-Jwala target top-10

Medal at Jakarta World meet immediate priority

Ashwini-Jwala target top-10

 Ranked 12th in the world, the Indian women’s doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and Jwala Gutta have their eyes fixed on one goal, breaking into the top 10.

“Yes, Jwala and I are targeting to be in the top-10 by the end of the Olympic period, which ends in May 2016. It would be a healthy position to be in,” said Ashwini talking on the sidelines of a felicitation event organised by the Karnataka Badminton Association here on Tuesday.

The Bengaluru player, along with doubles players D Guruprasad, S Venkatesh Prasad, K Jagadish Yadav and S Sanjeeth were honoured for qualifying for All England championships.

Following a string of impressive performances this season, which also saw them win the Canada Open early this year, Ashwini and Jawla are confident of making a strong statement at the World Championships which get underway in Jakarta next week.

“We would like to return with a medal. And that’s something we are looking towards (achieving). This is the first time that we are seeded, so that also helps. But we want to take one match at a time,” said Ashwini.

Her partner Jwala echoed similar expectations. “We have had a good season so far, winning a number of  games. The title in Canada and our performance at the US Open has gone a long way in enhancing our confidence level. We are mentally prepared for the challenge,” the Hyderabadi told Deccan Herald.

Seeded thirteen, the Indian pair will start its campaign in the second round, where it could face either Hsieh Pei Chen and Wu Ti Jung of the Chinese Taipei or the Canadian pair of Alex Bruce and Phyllis Chan. And Ashwini stressed that they would be cautious in their approach against their opponents.

“We don’t play the first round, and in the second we will face either Taipei pair or the Canadian pair.

“That could be tricky for us, because in the past our matches against the Taipei pair have been very close. So you can’t underestimate them. We need to be on top of our game,” added the 25-year-old.

Eyes on Rio

With the Rio Olympics approaching fast, the pair is aware that playing competitive matches is the only way to maintain top form.

“A match scenario is totally different as compared to training. You’ve been training for a month and a half, then you go and play outside, it’s not going to be the same,” said Ashwini.

“Because the level at which you’ve been training here is very different from the level at which you will be playing. The level is higher. The more tournaments you play, your level goes up. It’s very important for us to take on as many tournaments as possible and that’s what we’re going to do,” she added.

Meanwhile, Jwala also welcomed the newly appointed doubles coach Kim Tan Her and said that the move would prove benefical for doubles badminton.

“We have always been wanting a doubles coach, not only for us, but for doubles badminton in the country. And now with the coach coming in, it will definitely help the cause,” she said.

“I hope that the coach will be the sole decision maker and that he is involved in the selection procedure too,” she added.

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