Petroleum Sports Promotion Board players Sourabh Verma and PV Sindhu clinched the menâ€™s and womenâ€™s singles titles respectively in the IFCI 76th Senior National Badminton Championships here on Wednesday.
Top-seeded Verma. Saurabh Verma from Dhar, 60-km from Indore,a talented shuttler who has made rapid strides in the last one year and zoomed to India No. 1 spot, and who also beat three higher-ranked players - Tommy Sugiarto, Yun Hu and Suppanyu Avihingsanon - en route to the final in the Indian grand Prix earlier in December, quelled the challenge of teammate and second-seeded B Sai Praneeth 21-19 21-19 in the title clash at the Karnataka Badminton Associationâ€™s K Raheja Stadium, while Sindhu, the ninth seed, did outplayed Airportsâ€™ Authority of Indiaâ€™s Neha Pandit (second seed) 21-9 21-14.
In the first game, Verma was attacking and scoring points. But he kept hitting beyond the back line and needlessly gave away points. However, he always managed to stay ahead of his opponent. He was up 20-15 but Praneeth was in no mood to give up. He brought it to as close as 20-19 but Verma managed to shut the door on his rival.
The second game saw a lot of net play. After some tentative moments in the initial phase for Praneeth, he began to work his way up and even took a 9-7 lead. But Verma bounced back. The scores were level at 10-all but Praneeth led again at 17-15 and 19-17. True to his reputation, Verma just hung in there and Praneeth hit the shuttle out twice to level scores at 19-all. That was enough to boost Vermaâ€™s confidence. He wasted no time in taking two more points and clinching his first national title.
â€śI feel happy. I wanted to win this because till now, I had only won national ranking tournaments. It was all about playing well in the final,â€ť Verma said.
The womenâ€™s final was in complete contrast to the menâ€™s. It was almost total domination by the latest sensation in the Indian badminton scene: Sindhu. Being quite tall, she got down some very steep smashes and Neha was caught short on several occasions. Sindhu took the first game 21-9. Neha put up a better fight in the second but could not win.
Sindhu is the only 16-year-old to win a national title apart from Prakash Padukone. Both winners took home a cash prize of Rs 40,000 each.
Results (finals): Menâ€™s singles: Sourabh Verma (1, PSPB) bt B Sai Praneeth (2, PSPB) 21-19 21-19; Menâ€™s doubles: Arun Vishnu/ K Tarun (PSPB) bt KT Rupesh Kumar (PSPB)/ Sanave Thomas (Ker) (5) 21-16 16-21 21-18; Womenâ€™s singles: PV Sindhu (9, PSPB) bt Neha Pandit (2, AAI) 21-9 21-14 ; Womenâ€™s doubles: Pradnya Gadre (AI)/ Prajakta Sawant (PSPB) (2) bt Aparna Balan (PSPB)/ N Sikki Reddy (AAI) (1) 21-19 22-20 Mixed doubles: Arun Vishnu/ Aparna Balan (PSPB) (1) bt Pranav Chopra/ Prajakta Sawant (PSPB) (2) 21-16 17-21 21-19