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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014

Other Sport

'Forceful' Ponnappa ready for new innings with Jwala Gutta
Rajesh Pansare , Hindustan Times
Pune, August 23, 2013
First Published: 02:12 IST(23/8/2013)
Last Updated: 02:14 IST(23/8/2013)

There's frenetic activity inside the Shiv Chhatraparti Sports Complex with the Pune Pistons' players hard at practice.

However, at one of the corner courts the scene is different. Here, the focus in on finesse during net play. Joachim Fischer Nielsen, the world No 4 in mixed doubles, is passing on valuable tips to Ashwini Ponnappa.

Nielsen chides her for making silly errors, but that doesn't upset Ponnappa. She knows she is adding something to her repertoire, and makes the most of the time spent with Nielsen, a mixed doubles bronze medallist at the London Olympics.

"Playing with a player of his calibre is an honour. Not often do you get such an opportunity," she said after an exhausting session. 

Ponnappa has always been a back-court player, possessing one of the strongest smashes in the women's game.

What she lacked was touch play at the net. "I was reluctant to get to the net." But that's not the case anymore."

With a new weapon in her armoury, she's ready to join forces with Jwala Gutta after the IBL.

It will be more than a year since the country's most successful women's doubles pair broke up, with the latter going on a seven-month sabbatical.   

"In a way, the split with Jwala was good. It kind of helped both of us," said Ponnappa. 

Pairing up with Jwala will end her brief but successful outing with Pradnya Gadre. The pair had stunned world No 2 Ma Jin and Tang Jinhua in the second round of the Malaysia Open, which was their third tournament together.

"I've improved, especially in my net game and analysis," she said of the time spent with Gadre.

While she didn't dwell much on what prompted her to get back with Jwala, Ponnappa is certain that she will focus on women's and mixed doubles, which she has been playing with Tarun Kona.

Zebadiah to replace Taerattanachai
New Delhi : The Awadhe Warriors announced that SCG Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold winner Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth of Indonesia will replace Thai shuttler Sapsiree Taerattanachai for the remaining matches of the Indian Badminton League.

Pia Zebadiah will join the team on Friday, and will stay till the end of the league.

Thailand players would be returning home for their national championships. Pia Zebadiah was in the reserve list and Awadhe Warriors decided to pick her for the remaining matches of the $1 million tournament.

Hu Yun equates IBL with Worlds
Bangalore: Beats shuttler Hu Yun feels the level of competition in the IBL is similar to the prestigious World Championships.

"I think there is very good competition here. It is a lot like the World Championship because a same set of players feature in these tournaments," said the China-born shuttler, who represents Hong Kong.

Yun, who lost in the third round of the World Championships, said he was impressed and would participate in the second edition of the IBL.

The Hong Kong player said he has made many friends and they discussed badminton regularly.


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