The latest edition of the oldest National tennis contest — the grass-court championship — which begins at the South Club on Monday throws up contrasting scenarios in the men’s and women’s main draw.

While the men’s event would welcome a new champion as many top names of the country have decided against participation, the women’s category will have a veteran of many battles looking to defend the title she won surprising a youthful field last season.

Rushmi Chakravarthy, who is mostly infrequent in the competition calendar being more busy with coaching, will look to recall the finesse that made her one of the top players in the country.

Rushmi has a fine record on grass and that is apparently the reason why she has come to defend the title, which if realised would be her seventh National crown.

The 35-year-old Rushmi, who is currently ranked 34 in the country, will be up against 18-year-old and seventh seeded Manya Nagpal of Uttar Pradesh in the first round.

Having been drawn in the top half of the main draw, Rushmi will have to contend against a host of higher-ranked juniors. But with her experience and expertise on grass, it will be a big challenge for the listed seeds to unsettle the defending champion.

Rawat top seed

The men’s champion Saketh Myneni and all those in the top-10 of the national rankings have decided to give the tournament a slip, leaving the talented 19-year-old Sidharth Rawat of Uttar Pradesh topping the list of seeds.

The 38-year-old Nitten Kirtane of Maharashtra will lead the roll of seniors in the tournament. Kirrtane has earned the second seeding being placed 15th in the national ranking while another UP player Chandril Sood and Shahbaaz Khan of Maharashtra are seeded third and fourth respectively.

Young Mohit Mayur Jayaprakash of Tamil Nadu can well be one of the unheralded names waiting to upset the order.

The main draw seedings:

Men: 1. Sidharth Rawat (UP), 2. Nitten Kirrtane (Mah), 3. Chandril Sood (UP), 4. Shahbaaz Khan (Mah), 5. Abhijeet Tiwari (CG), 6. Ramkumar Ramanathan (TN), 7. Lakshit Sood (UP), 8. Saurav Sukul (Ben).

Women: 1. Ankita Raina (Guj), 2. Shweta Rana (Del), 3. Prarthana Thombre (Mah), 4. Nidhi Chilumula (AP), 5. Natasha Palha (Goa), 6. Nupur Kaul (Mah), 7. Manya Nagpal (UP), 8. Vaniya Dangwal (Del).

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