India’s top-ranked Under-19 shuttler Aakarshi Kashyap lived upto her billing as she beat qualifier Kavipriya S in straight games to win the girls’ singles title at the All India Junior Ranking Tournament in Tirupur on Sunday.
Aakarshi, the junior national champion, came into the tournament as the top seed and was ruthless in the final, as she won the opening game 21-8 quite comfortably. The 16-year-old from Bhilai in Chhattisgarh did not hang around in the second game either as she won it 21-11 to seal the match in just 36 minutes. Aakarshi, who now trains at the Prakash Padukone Academy in Bengaluru, dropped just one game on her way to the title.
The big surprise came in the boys’ singles final, however, as qualifier Priyanshu Rajawat upset the fifth seed Kiran George 21-14, 19-21, 21-16 in a match that lasted 52 minutes. The 16-year-old from Dhar in Madhya Pradesh was playing his 14th match of the tournament in the last six days, after participating in mixed doubles as well.
After coming through three rounds of qualification in mixed doubles, Priyanshu and his partner Ananya Goel had lost to top seeds Sri Krishna Sai Kumar Podile and Srishti Jupudi in straight games in the first round of the main draw.
Priyanshu also went through four qualification rounds in the boys’ singles category, before playing six more matches till Sunday. But for his quarter-final game against Amit Rathore, all of Priyanshu’s matches went the distance into three games. However, the 16-year-old was still had the legs to come out on top in the final against a much fresher Kiran George.
Priyanshu defeated three seeded players en route to the title, including India’s No 1 junior Aman Farogh Sanjay, whom he beat 21-12, 16-21, 22-24 in the semi-finals. Priyanshu had earlier beaten third seed Dhruv Rawat 21-16, 18-21, 29-27 in a gruelling match as well.
Eye on Indonesia
Asked how he got through those difficult matches and what kept him going through the tournament, Priyanshu said that he had an eye on Indonesia coming into Tirupur. “This tournament serves as a selection event for the Junior Asian Team Championship [in Indonesia in July] so that motivated me to perform well,” he said.
“It feels great to win the title, especially after beating the top-ranked players including the India No 1. I would like to thank my coaches at the Gopichand Academy for this triumph,” he added.
Priyanshu began playing badminton at the age of eight in Dhar under coach Sudhir Verma, who is the father of India internationals Sameer and Sourabh Verma. After two years, he moved to the Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad.
Priyanshu and Aakarshi will now both train their guns towards the senior ranking tournaments in Bengaluru and Hyderabad next month. The two tournaments also serve as selection trials for the Asian Games in August.
Earlier on Sunday, Sri Krishna and Srishti went on to lift the mixed doubles title. Both of them had chances to win the double as they were also in the boys’ and girls’ doubles finals with their respective partners, but both ended up losing.
The girls’ doubles title was won by top seeds Simran Singhi and Ritika Thaker, while the boys’ doubles champions were second seeds Manjit Singh Khwairakpam and Dingku Sing Konthoujam.
The winners in the singles category won Rs 39,000 each, while the doubles champions were awarded prize money of Rs 41,000, according to a Badminton Association of India release. BAI also gave away a total of Rs 4 lakh to the players who qualified for the knockout stages of the tournament, according to the release.