Ashwini Ponappa, who has been steadily going up in world badminton doubles rankings, feels a doubles coach will be very helpful for the players. “Gopi Sir (National coach P. Gopi Chand) has a lot of things on his hands. He is a very good coach. It would be better to have a specialist coach to deal with doubles players.”
She is currently teamed up with Tarun Kona in mixed doubles (ranked 29 in the International Badminton Federation list) and Pradyna Gadre in women’s doubles (27 in IBF ranking).
Asked about her experience with new partners, she said: “Ever since I teamed up with Tarun and Pradnya, we have been getting better with every tournament. We have had a couple of really good wins and our rankings are improving.
“It is just a matter of time before we start winning events. The world championship is coming up and I am looking forward to it. The aim is to do well there.”
She won the Commonwealth Games doubles gold with G. Jwala before changing her partner.
As one of the Indian Badminton League’s icon players, Ashwini was at the Jamnabai Narsee School (JNS) to launch ‘Shuttle Express’, an initiative aimed at popularising the sport among school children. JNS is the school partner of the Mumbai leg. The winners in the boys’ and girls’ sections in the city will play an all-India final during the IBL.
Ashwini is happy at the surge in corporate interest for the sport. “Corporate interest in badminton due to IBL is beneficial. It would be helpful if academies too benefit and also if different academies work as a team towards developing talent for the national team.”
She took part in a badminton clinic with school kids at JNS and hoped the spark created in them will attract more families to the sport.