16-year-old Nagpur shuttler Malvika youngest after Saina, Sindhu to win All India Senior’s titleJanuary 21, 2018
NAGPUR: Malvika Bansod has joined the big league of Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu. At 16, the supremely talented city shuttler became the youngest to win the national-level senior’s title when she triumphed at the Dr Akhilesh Das Gupta Memorial All India Senior Ranking Badminton tournament which concluded at Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, on Saturday.
In an all-Nagpur women’s singles summit clash, Malvika surprised her practice partner Vaishnavi Bhale 21-14, 21-17. Contrary to the expectations, unseeded Malvika dictated the terms in the 40-minute final and clinched her maiden crown on her debut.
Seventh seed Vaishnavi, champion at the same venue in 2015, tried her best but could not stop the giant-killing run of her younger rival.
After losing the first game easily, Vaishnavi staged a comeback in the second. However, Malvika did not take her feet off the accelerator and closed the match with a splendid attacking game. It was a forgettable day for Vaishnavi as she also suffered defeat in the women’s doubles.
Seventh seeds Meghana Jakkampudi and Poorvisha S Ram shocked third seeded pair of Vaishnavi and Anura Prabhudesai (Goa) 21-19, 21-14 in 40 minutes.
For the second tournament in succession, Vaishnavi lost both the singles and doubles finals. In the last Senior Ranking tournament at Sikkim in December, 2017, Vaishnavi had to face narrow defeats in twin finals. Malvika, a Standard XI student of Shivaji Science College, gave credit of success to her coach Kiran Makode and parents – Dr Prabhod and Trupti Bansod.
“I am absolutely thrilled to win my first title at the senior level in my first tournament. I actually did not expect to win the title when I came here. However, as the tournament progressed, I became confident. In the entire tournament, my court coverage was excellent. I played aggressively and it clicked for me. The attacking game which I displayed was the key to my success,” a jubilant Malvika told TOI soon after lifting the glittering trophy.
“Being an unseeded, I had to face several seeded players on way to win the title. I am glad I could play well against all of them. Some of the difficult shuttles which I managed to retrieve surprised my opponents. They did not expect returns and it put them under tremendous pressure. In the future, I need more practice and for that availability of courts is must. I wish I get more time to spend on the court for practice for bigger battles ahead,” said Malvika.
Although, 22-year-old Vaishnavi was disappointed to lose both the finals, she praised the efforts of Malvika. “Malvika was superb today. I did not play up to my potential. Yesterday, I played so many tough matches. Therefore I could not recover properly. However, that is not the reason for my loss. I don’t want to take any credit from Malvika. She was very good today. She deserved to win,” said Vaishnavi, a student of LAD College.
Malvika’s road to triumph
First round: Beat Shivani Santosh Singh 21-10, 21-8
Second round: Beat 9-Shenan Christian 21-14, 21-11
Third round: Beat 4-Riya Mookerjee 17-21, 21-7, 21-13
Quarterfinal: Beat 2-Shriyanshi Pardeshi 21-15, 15-21, 21-7
Semifinal: Beat Bhavya Rishi 21-18, 21-17
Final: Beat 7-Vaishnavi Bhale 21-14, 21-17.