The men’s and women’s finals of the Thanthi TV-Asia Pacific under-21 championship, which concluded on the sands of Marina here on Sunday, proved to be thrilling and entertaining in equal measure
The contests turned out to be a great advertisement for a sport that has immense potential to grow in India.
The Australian pair of Mariafe Artacho and Jessyka Ngauamo crushed Japan’s Chiyo Suzuki and Satono Ishitsubo 21-11, 21-12.
Mariafe and Jessyka’s all-round performance ensured an easy victory for the team. The two were brilliant with blocks and were exceptional with smashes. The Australians didn’t seem troubled in both sets.
For Japan, Satono’s game wasn’t up to the mark — making far too many errors at the net. Chiyo tried her best with nice placements — being a left-hander did help. The Japanese pair, however, seemed unable to give its best.
In the men’s final, Indonesia’s Mohammad Ashfiya and Rendy Verdan turned out to be giant-killers as the pair upset favourites Vladislav Pustynnikov and Sergey Bogatu of Kazakhstan 21-16, 19-21, 15-10.
Playing in their first International tournament, Rendy and Mohammad were aggression personified against a pair which has been playing together for the last five years at the International level.
Rendy’s smashes and Mohammad’s interception and alacrity unnerved the Kazakh pair. World Tour regular Sergy Bogatu came up with some immaculate blocks and smashes, but those were few and far between.
Though India lost in the quarterfinals, three teams earned a berth for the World u-21 championship to be held in Umag, Croatia from June 20 to 23. India-1 (Rajkumar & Yogaraj) & India-2 (Shankar & Mahesh Kumar) in men, and the women’s India-1 (R. Deepika & S. Eshwari) team made the grade. The top six teams in men and women go to Croatia.
Men: Final: Indonesia bt Kazakhstan-1 21-16, 19-21, 15-10; Semifinals: Indonesia bt Kazakhstan-2 21-12, 21-17; Kazakhstan-1 bt Australia 21-15, 21-14; Third place: Kazakhstan-2 bt Australia 21-14, 21-19.
Women: Final: Australia bt Japan-1 21-11, 21-12; Semifinals: Australia bt Indonesia 21-10, 21-14; Japan-1 bt Kazakhstan 15-21, 21-18, 15-13; Third place: Indonesia bt Kazakhstan 21-12, 21-12.