'Happy to play in the City'

Ashwini looks forward to a successful PBL

'Happy to play in the City'

The best thing to emerge out of Premier Badminton League -- the rechristened avatar of the Indian Badminton League -- for Ashwini Ponnappa is being picked up by Bengaluru Top Guns. The City lass, a doubles specialist, said she can’t wait to take the court when the league kicks off on January 2.

“The most exciting thing was hearing that I will be part of the Bengaluru Top Guns’ team,” said the 26-year-old on the sidelines of a function to launch the franchise. “I’m happy that I will finally get to play my matches here because normally tournaments happen in Delhi, Lucknow or Hyderabad. I feel Bengaluru as a city has a lot of badminton players and to be able to play in front of them is a big thing.

“First edition, despite the controversy, was wonderful and we got a lot of exposure. We are going with a clean slate and there is nothing else in your mind. There is no controversy so I am really looking forward,” added Ashwini, who represented Pune Piston in the inaugural edition of PBL two years ago.

Ashwini said she can’t wait to play with Danish doubles ace Joachim Fischer Nielsen. “Fischer comes from a country that has produced so many doubles players and currently the top five in the world in men’s doubles, women’s doubles or mixed doubles have Danes. They come from a country where they understand doubles well and their strategy and training is all really good. So the last time I played with him (with Pune Piston) I learned a lot.

“In India, in terms of doubles, we are still growing. We have players but the mindset isn’t like how it is in Europe. We are still centered towards singles and the singles players are doing well because of that. In a lot of other countries, they are focused on the doubles and in most cases they have better doubles players than singles players. To have such players come and play here it will be wonderful. This time we have a lot of top players even among the women so the competition in mixed doubles will be really strong than last time.”

Kidami Srikanth, the lead singles player in Bengaluru side, said PBL will act as a perfect season opener. “We don’t regularly play such sort of team events. Being a singles player, I hardly get to play in such team events. I’m alone all the time, I have to strategise all by myself. To start the season through suh a league is very good as you get to know your strengths and weaknesses.”

Srikanth, who enjoyed a superb 2014 before being beset by injuries this season, said he’s looking forward to 2016 with qualifying for the Rio Olympics being his main target. “I wouldn’t say injuries but more ups and downs. It will there in any athlete’s career. How quickly you can stage a comeback is what is very important. From the last tournament, I think I’ve begun to play very well. I entered the final of the Indonesia Open. I lost a few matches after reaching match point. I’m happy from my side. It’s not that I played badly, just that I couldn’t pull off a few matches. I believe the new year will change my fortunes. I’m really hoping to start 2016 on a bright note.”
 

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