Khelo India Youth Games: Prerna adds singles gold after doubles triumph
The Maharashtra girl had to tackle both to win the U-17 girls’ tennis final against Gujarat’s Priyanshi Bhandari 6-2, 5-7, 7-5 at the Khelo India Games. She had also won the U-17 girls’ doubles gold with Gargi Pawar.Updated: Jan 19, 2019 20:09 IST
A left-handed rival with a strong forehand or a bunch of excited kids, what can be more challenging? On another day, Prerna Vichare would have picked the latter but Saturday presented a different scenario.
The Maharashtra girl had to tackle both to win the U-17 girls’ tennis final against Gujarat’s Priyanshi Bhandari 6-2, 5-7, 7-5 at the Khelo India Games. She had also won the U-17 girls’ doubles gold with Gargi Pawar.
After taking the first set 6-2 and having broken Priyanshi in the second set at 4-2, Prerna looked set for an easy outing. However, an unexpected ‘disturbance’ ensued.
Just as Prerna got ready to serve for the seventh game, she stopped. A large group of school kids took to the stands leaving the two players and officials present surprised. The match was halted for quite some time as the kids just wouldn’t stop talking.
Finally, when play resumed, Prerna’s focus seemed to have ditched her. The errors increased and her opponent Priyanshi pounced on the opportunity. She broke Prerna and then took the second set 7-5. The decider too was a tight affair as both were broken thrice before the home girl won the third set 7-5 to win the final.
“The conditions were tough, especially with the distractions in between. There was a brief period where I lost my focus. But then I said to myself that ‘I would not let it affect me in the deciding set’,” said Prerna.
Looking the fitter player among the two, Prerna’s returns were more powerful as she placed the ball with finesse to put Priyanshi in trouble on way to taking the first set with ease.
On the other end of the court, the left-handed Priyanshi was error-prone but that did not deter her from going for net play. Rather than playing from the baseline, she took her chances and looked stylish with her strokes. She got the much needed break in the seventh game of the second set after the brief halt due to the group of young spectators.
The third set went on in the same strain as in the first five games Prerna was broken thrice while Priyanshi was broken twice. The streak finally ended with the latter holding serve in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead. It was not longstanding as in the eighth game, Priyanshi was broken back after a long rally with the scores tied 4-4. The third set looked like going into the tie-breaker but for three straight errors by Priyanshi in the 12th game. Prerna took the match with a forehand winner.
The U-21 boys final, however, was no such an exciting affair as Tamil Nadu’s Manish Sureshkumar defeated home boy Dhruv Sunish 6-3, 6-3. The match started with a strong promise as Dhruv’s serve and forehand found Manish on the wrong foot. The latter, a quarter-finalist at the 2018 National Tennis Championships, was broken in the fourth game but did not lose composure.
With a sleek backhand in his repertoire, Manish broke Dhruv in the fifth, seventh and the ninth games to take the set 6-3. Dhruv’s apparent frustration further hampered his performance as he lost the second set by the same margin.
In U-17 women’s hockey, Haryana won gold defeating Jharkhand 2-1 in a closely contested match. In the bronze medal play-off, Odisha defeated Punjab 3-2.
After two goalless quarters, Haryana broke the deadlock in the 34th minute as Deepika found the target. She doubled the lead three minutes later after scoring from open play. Jharkhand managed to get one goal back through Prini Kandir in the 60th minute but it was not enough.
First Published: Jan 19, 2019 20:09 IST