Kozhikode ended Ernakulam's 10-year reign and won the men's inter-district team title in the Kerala State senior badminton championship at the FACT Udyogamandal Club on Friday.
Eighth-seeded S. Sunjith, who has just come out of the junior ranks, played a big role in the Kozhikode's 3-2 victory when he upset Ernakulam's fourth-seeded K.A. Aneesh in the opening singles.
“Our 10-year wait is now over,” said Ram C. Vijay, who paired with Sunjith to win the deciding doubles for Kozhikode. “We didn't expect Sunjith to beat Aneesh in the opening singles…Sunjith's win was the big difference, the turning point.”
With two of the championship's top four singles seeds in Antony K. Jacob and Aneesh and a former doubles international in Markose Bristow, Ernakulam looked stronger on paper but Kozhikode had a younger and a much fitter bunch.
The results (inter-district team championship):
Men's final: Kozhikode bt Ernakulam 3-2 (S. Sunjith bt K.A. Aneesh 21-14, 21-16; Neeraj Rehman lost to Antony K. Jacob 21-15, 7-21, 14-21; M. Shridhin/Mithilesh Sunder lost to P.H. Suraj/K. Dilshad 21-17, 19-21, 16-21; Mithilesh Sunder bt P.H. Suraj 21-15, 21-10; Ram C. Vijay/S. Sunjith bt Markose Bristow/K.A. Aneesh 21-13, 21-14).
Semifinals: Ernakulam bt Thiruvananthapuram 3-0 (Aneesh bt Balasubramanian 21-14, 21-15; Antony Jacob bt Jithin Suresh 21-16, 21-13; Markose Bristow/P.H. Suraj bt A. Firoz Shah/V.M. Anil Kumar 21-16, 21-17); Kozhikode bt Idukki 3-0 (Neeraj Rehman bt Philip Shaji 21-18, 21-16; S. Sunjith bt O.V. Jayadeep 21-14, 21-6; Mithilesh Sunder/M. Shridhin bt Rijo M. Joseph/Rahul P. Basheer 21-5, 21-10).