The setting was just perfect for Anup Sridhar to excel. Some of India’s greatest shuttlers like Satish Bhatia, Prakash Padukone and Madhumita Bisht were watching the proceedings with rapt attention.
The Karnataka youngster scripted a 22-20, 21-13 win over P. Kayshap to win the LVL All India major ranking tournament in Dehradun on Sunday. Dhanya Nair annexed the women’s title with a 21-7, 24-22 win over Poonam Tiwari.
Kayshap showed no nerves playing in his first senior-level final. The 20-year-old Hyderabadi matched Anup stroke for stroke. With his scorching smashes, he even enjoyed slender leads of 11-8 and 14-12.
It goes to Anup’s credit that he did not get ruffled. The Karnataka shuttler slowed down the pace and engaged Kayshap in long rallies. The tactics worked and Anup went on to pocket the opening game 22-20.
When Kayshap took a 5-1 lead in the second, there were many in the crowd who thought the match might go into the decider. But that was not to be. Anup suddenly raised the tempo of his game and went for an all out attack. He smashed and dribbled relentlessly to win the game 21-13.
“I am delighted. Especially after the Nationals (where Anup lost in the quarterfinals) it was important for me to win a title. More than anything else, it helped me prove a point to myself,” said Anup.
Anup also gave credit to his much younger opponent. “I had to give in my best to thwart him. He has improved tremendously in the last one year and I see no reason why he shouldn’t be among the top three in the country in the coming years,” he said.
On his part, Kayshap was candid enough to admit that he still had some way to go before beating the likes of Anup Sridhar. “I still have to improve on certain aspects of my game. Against a player of Anup’s calibre, it is important to be steady. That is where I lacked today,” felt Kayshap.
In the women’s final, the stocky Dhanya Nair proved too good for home favourite Poonam Tiwari. Dhanya used her crisp drop shots to telling effect, making Poonam move all around the court before scoring with good smashes. In the opening game, Dhanya rampaged her way to win 21-7, much to the disappointment of the local crowd.
In the second, Poonam put up a much better fight. She kept the shuttle short and denied Dhanya the room to bring her drops into play. She even led 18-15, but once against errors crept into her game. Dhanya caught up with her at 22- all and then won the title with a couple of wristy flicks.
Poonam could barely conceal her disappointment. “I am extremely unhappy that I could not manage to win the title in front of my home fans,” she said.
Men’s singles: Anup Sridhar bt P. Kayshap 22-20, 21-13. Doubles: Jaseel Ismail/Jose George bt Rupesh Kumar/Sanave Thomas 21-13, 21-17.
Women's singles: Dhanya Nair bt Poonam Tiwari 21-7, 24-22.