There were three gold medals for India at the Tata Open India International Challenge from the four finals which had local representation, with Lakshya Sen, Ashmita Chaliha and Sumeeth Reddy-MR Arjun registering easy wins.
The women’s doubles pair of Poorvisha S Ram and Meghana Jakkampudi, who were the top seeds, were the only Indian finalists who faced reversal in the final. Poorvisha and Meghana lost to second seeds NG Wing Yung and Yeung Nga Ting of Hong Kong 10-21, 11-21.
This wasn’t the only lopsided final of the day. In fact, neither of the five finals went into a deciding game and all of them ended within 35 minutes.
Ashmita Chaliha first won an all-Indian final against Vrushali Gummadi 21-16, 21-13. This was the 19-year-old’s second title on the international circuit this year after winning the Dubai International Challenge last month.
Ashmita, who is an aggressive player, did not even need to get into top gear as she comfortably coasted to a win against Vrushali.
The men’s singles final between Lakshya Sen and junior world champion Kunlavut Vitidsarn, a rematch of the semi-final of the BWF World Junior Championships last month, also turned out to be a damp squib.
Lakshya made good use of the faster court conditions in the small badminton arena at the Cricket Club of India, as he controlled the pace of the game very well. The 17-year-old did not go to his preferred attacking game from the start and preferred to control the shuttle initially.
World junior champion Kunlavut, perhaps surprised by this approach, committed a few too many errors on his part and just could not get into the game. Lakshya won the match comfortably 21-15, 21-10 in 35 minutes.
“The court conditions did help but I had a game plan against Kunlavut,” said Sen after the match. “I’m happy I was able to beat him this time.”
Kunlavut, meanwhile, admitted he was outplayed on the day. “I just could not control the shuttle,” the 17-year-old Thai said. “I made too many mistakes and I should have played better.”
The win for Sen also ensured that he ended his season on a high, with his only title on the senior circuit in 2018. He had also won the gold medal at the Asian Junior Championships – beating Kunlavut in the final – and a bronze at the world juniors, along with a silver at the Youth Olympics.
In the final match of the day, the scratch pair of MR Arjun and B Sumeeth Reddy continued their incredible streak as they beat the top seeds Goh Sze Fei and Nur Izzuddin of Malaysia in straight games 21-10, 21-16.
This was Arjun and Sumeeth’s first – and probably only – tournament together. They had primarily entered the tournament to play mixed doubles with their respective new partners in order to improve their ranking, but both lost in the quarter-finals. They only played men’s doubles together because national coach Tan Kim Her asked them to since their first-choice partners had taken a break.
It turned out to be a great decision in the end.