ATF u-14 finals’ preview: Big-serving Ahlawat has never-say-die Prapurna in her sights
This contest is to be a close encounter with two of the pretournmanet favourites squaring off for the trophy. Both haven’t dropped a single set en route to the finale, but Ahlawat has lost fewer games that her opponentUpdated: Jun 08, 2018 16:49 IST
Hindustan Times, Pune
Third seed Shruti Ahlawat will look to continue her good run of form as the takes on fourth seed Veda Prapurna on Saturday in the girls final of the Arun Wakankar memorial ATF Asian under-14 tennis tournament held at the Balewadi sports complex on Saturday.
As the seeding suggests, this contest is set to be a close encounter with two of the pre-tournament favourites squaring off for the trophy. Both haven’t dropped a single set en route to the finale, but Ahlawat has lost fewer games than her opponent.
Her journey began with a convincing 6-1, 6-0 win over Madhurima Sawant in the first round which was followed by a 6-1, 6-1 victory against qualifier Shravani Khawale. She beat Canadian sixth seed Abhinaya Sweeton by the same scoreline in the quarter-finals to set up a semi-final date with wild card Ruma Gaikaiwari
Since the start of the competition, Ahlawat has had her fantastic serves to thank for, that have often left her opponents dumbfounded.
Her challenger Prapurna may not have won all of her matches by convincing margins, but she too, goes into the final on the back of some fine showings in the past few rounds.
After toppling Jigyasa Narsinghani and the qualifier Anya Jacob in her first two rounds, her biggest challenge came in the quarters in the form of the fifth seed Nandini Dixit. After a shaky start, she managed to get her game back on track, and ended up winning the contest 6-3, 6-1.
The unseeded Sonal Patil was all that stood in Prapurna’s way from making it to the grand finale. The fourth seed seemed unnerved as she cruised through a 6-2, 6-1 win to set up a clash with Ahlawat on Saturday.
Road to the final
Round of 32: 6-1, 6-0 vs Madhurima Sawant
Round of 16: 6-1, 6-1 vs Shravani Khawale
Quarters: 6-1, 6-0 vs Abhinaya Sweeton (6)
Semis: 6-0, 6-0 vs Ruma Gaikawairi
Round of 32: 6-2, 6-0 vs Jigyasa Narsinghani
Round of 16: 6-3, 6-4 vs Anya Jacob
Quarters: 6-3, 6-1 vs Nadini Dixit (5)
Semis: 6-2, 6-3 vs Sonal Patil
Match-points’ survivior Dhamne goes up against red-hot Agarwal
On Saturday, the singles at the Arun Wakankar memorial ATF Asian under-14 tennis tournament held at Balewadi sports complex will reach a climax with a mouth-watering final encounter between sixth and seventh seeds – Manas Dhamne and Daksh Agarwal, respectively.
Agarwal will go into Saturday’s game having dropped just one set throughout the tournament, which came at the hands of the fifth-seeded Joshua Eapen from Great Britain. The duo played out a marathon game in the second round of the tournament, but it was the seventh seed who pulled off an upset to make it through to the quarter-finals.
Since moving to the last eight, he lifted his game and has proven to be invincible. His domination of top seed and favourite Shivam Kadam in the quarters proved just how much he has improved since day one and will be looking to recapture that form going into the final.
All that will be standing in his way is sixth seed Manas Dhamne, who has been stretched to the limit in the last two games he’s played. After relatively simple back-to-back straight sets wins in the first two rounds, Dhamne was put to the test in the quarter-finals when he came up against the tournament third seed from Tamil Nadu’s Nithis Baalaji.
In that match, the sixth seed was under immense pressure from the opening game as he was made to fight tooth and nail for every point. Baalaji put his experience to good use and made Dhamne run all around the court. However, despite losing the second convincingly, Dhamne came out all guns blazing in the third to win it 6-1.
What was in store for the sixth seed in the semis was another three sets encounter, this time against the well-serving eight seed Omaansh Saharia. Despite being two seeds below Dhamne, Saharia was expected to beat his highly ranked opponent and make it to the finals and things seemed to be going as per plan as he won the first 6-3.
At the break between sets, Dhamne analysed his performance and came back a totally different player in the second. With both playing at the top of their game, only a tiebreak could separate the two players. Saharia had three match points in the tiebreak, but Dhamne defended all of them and wrapped up the set with a forehand winner down the line. In the third, he took charge since the off and won it by a whopping 6-2 score to set up a date with destiny on Saturday.
Road to the final
Round of 32: 6-2, 6-4 vs Navya Verma
Round of 16: 7-5, 5-7, 6-2 vs Joshua Eapen
Quarters: 6-3, 6-0 vs Shivam Kadam (1)
Semis: 7-5, 6-1 vs Anargha Ganguly (4)
Round of 32: 6-0, 6-2 vs Sudhanshu Sawant
Round of 16: 6-0, 6-3 vs Samar Malhotra
Quarters: -7-6(5), 2-6, 6-1 vs Nithis Baalaji (3)
Semis: 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-2 vs Omaansh Saharia (8)
Doubles finals, Friday, from 10 am
Hetvee Chaudhari and Pari Singh (1) vs Shruti Ahlawat and Veda Prapurna (2)
Sandeep Kadam and Nithis Baalaji (1) vs Daksh Agarwal and Manas Dhamne (3)
First Published: Jun 08, 2018 16:48 IST