Lakshya Sen recently became only the third Indian male shuttler to top the BWF world junior rankings. The 15-year-old Lakshya has emulated Aditya Joshi and Siril Verma, who attained the No 1 rank in 2014 and 2016 respectively.
But despite his achievement, mentor and Indian badminton great Prakash Padukone wants the prodigy to focus on improving his game in senior international tournaments rather than maintain his top spot in the ranking.
“I want him to target wins at a few international challenge level tournaments and do well in a Grand Prix and Grand Prix Gold level tournament if possible. There is no hurry, he can take two to three years to rise in the world rankings, he definitely has the potential,” Padukone was quoted as saying by ESPN.
Lakshya has been training under Padukone’s watchful eyes at his badminton academy in Bangalore since he was 10 years old.
Padukone identified Lakshya’s talent at a young age and feels it is no surprise that he has topped the charts.
“We were expecting this, perhaps it has come a little bit sooner than expected,” said Padukone.
He continued saying: “Lakshya is a naturally gifted player and is quick to grasp the finer points of the game. I felt he had some very special qualities from the very beginning.
“The idea now is to help him keep developing tactically, which I feel is very important in the modern game where everyone tends to play a similar style as opposed to the ‘80s and ‘90s.”
Padukone feels the next few years will be vital for Lakshya’s development and that his choice of tournaments will have a great effect on his future.
As part of his development plan, Lakshya’s schedule has been tailored to allow ample training in between competitions. But the focus for him is to compete only in World and Asian championships in the junior circuit and partake in senior tournaments the rest of the year.
Lakshya had made a bright start to his career winning the Wimbledon Under-19 tournament, the Swiss Open Junior tournament and the Aros Junior Under-15 cup in Denmark in 2014 before following it up with domestic junior titles to climb the national charts in 2015.
His rise to the top of the world junior ranking stems from a successful campaign in 2016. He won the India International as part of BWF’s International Challenger Series and also took bronze at the Junior Asian Championships. Additionally, as part of Padukone’s plan for him to compete in senior competitions, he played and won the All India Senior Ranking Tournament. In doing so he became the youngest player to ever win the competition.
In 2017, he has already competed in the Tata International challenge in Mumbai, the Syed Modi international in Lucknow and the Senior National Championships in Patna.