The BWF World Junior Mixed Team Championships 2022 gets underway in Santander, Spain on Monday, October 17 followed by the individual events starting from October 24.
The squad picked by Badminton Association of India sees Anupama Upadhyaya, currently world No 3, and Odisha Open Super 100 champion Unnati Hooda spearheading the contingent’s challenge.
India, as a seeded team, begin their campaign in the mixed team event in Group B on Monday with matches against Iceland and China. Australia and Slovenia are the other teams in the group. While China are not ranked highly enough in junior events to be seeded, they would, as the most successful team in the history of this event, be the favourites to get out of the group. Only the top-ranked team from the eight groups goes into the knockout to decide the top 8 teams.
The five matches played to decide the tie include men’s and women’s singles, men and women’s doubles and mixed doubles.
The teams play for the Suhandinata Cup at the Mixed Team Championships. The individual events will see five individual trophies called the Eye-Level Cups.
The Indian team for the prestigious tournament, to be held after a gap of two years following the Covid pandemic, was selected after a selection process that included two All India Ranking tournaments and a selection trial in Raipur.
Winners of Ranking tournament 1 (July in Panchkula)
Winners of Ranking Tournament 2 (July in Goa)
Winner of Selection Trials in Raipur
Hooda had topped the girls singles trials with S Rakshita Sree and Upadhayaya finishing second and third respectively.
The in-form Bharat Raghav, who won both the All Indian ranking titles in Goa and Panchkula will be India’s best bet in the boy’s singles category with Ayush Shetty completing the line up.
India has so far won one gold, three silver and five bronze medals in the competition with reigning Commonwealth Games gold medallist Lakshya Sen being the last Indian to stand on the podium to receive the boys singles bronze medal in 2018. Saina Nehwal is the only Indian to be crowned junior world champion. Other medal winners include HS Prannoy and B Sai Praneeth.
“The junior world championships are happening after a long gap and with new players emerging the team has been selected after an extensive selection trials,” said Badminton Association of India secretary Sanjay Mishra when the squad was selected.
“We are confident that we would be challenging for medals in the mixed team championships and also the individual events,” he added.
India will also field two doubles pairs each in the men’s and women’s doubles and mixed doubles category. The new combination of Arsh Mohammad and Abhinav Thakur along with Nicholas Nathan Raj and Tushar Suveer will shoulder the men’s doubles responsibility. In women’s doubles, All India ranking meet winners in Goa, Ishrani Baruah and Devika Sihag, will be joined by Tamil Nadu’s Shreya Balaji and Srinidhi N, who helped their state win the South Zone U19 mixed team title recently.
India squad: -
Boy’s Singles: Bharat Raghav, Ayush Shetty
Girl’s Singles: Unnati Hooda, Rakshitha Sree S, Anupama Upadhyaya
Boy’s Doubles: Arsh Mohammad/Abhinav Thakur, Nicholas Nathan Raj/Tushar Suveer
Girl’s Doubles: Isharani Baruah/Devika Sihag, Shreya Balaji/Srinidhi N.
Mixed Doubles: Samarveer/Radhika Sharma, Vighnesh Thathineni/Sri Sai Sravya Lakkamraju
Male shuttlers: Bharat Raghav S, Ayush Shetty, Arsh Mohammad, Abhinav Thakur, Nicholas Nathan Raj, Tushar Suveer, Samarveer, Vighnesh Thathineni
Female shuttlers: Unnati Hooda, Rakshitha Sree S, Anupama Upadhyaya, Isharani Baruah, Devika Sihag, Shreya Balaji, Srinidhi N., Radhika Sharma
Note: Sankar Muthusamy S was named in the original squad for the tournament but is not part of the contingent (clarification: mixed team only) now, missing out due to disciplinary reasons, Scroll.in understands. He is part of the men’s singles draw for the second part of the event.
Team event schedule:
India 5-0 Iceland: Monday October 17, 1230 pm IST
India 0-5 China: Monday October 17, 830 pm IST
India vs Australia: Tuesday October 18, 1230 pm IST
India vs Slovenia: Tuesday October 18, 830 pm IST
Screenshots courtesy: Tournament Software
Update: India defeated Iceland 5-0 to kick off their campaign in Santander. Unnati Hooda and Co were in control of that tie from the start. But later in the day, China downed then 5-0 to effectively end India’s hopes of going through to the top 8 phase.