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Meenakshi clinches title

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B.R. Meenakshi.
B.R. Meenakshi.

MUMBAI: Petroleum Sports Promotion Board’s B.R. Meenakshi held off Maharashtra youngster Neha Pandit’s challenge to win the final 21-12, 25-23 in the Tata Open badminton, collecting her first all-India title of the season at the Bombay Gymkhana courts.

Arvind Bhat (PSPB) clinched the men’s title, stopping Sachin Ratti (Railways)’s successful run with a 21-19, 21-9 victory in the final.

The former international, now trying to assert herself amidst a stream of young faces, was in control against the exuberant youngster. Both train at the Bangalore-based Prakash Padukone Academy, so it was a matter of playing to strengths.

“As long you are focussed and dedicated, age should not be held against players when it comes to national representation. I played my first Nationals in 1996 as a 16-year-old,” said the experienced Indian Oil player, for whom the final was the toughest tie of the event.

She defeated Dhanya Nair and Sikki Reddy en route to the title.

Meenakshi moved Neha around court in the first game, returned everything thrown at her in the second game. “I had a little trouble breathing at 10-10 when she began winning points. This was the toughest time for me in the tournament, otherwise I managed to have my way,” said the women’s champion who bagged Rs 50,000.

Pune girl Neha led for the first time 11-10 in the second game, gaining in confidence as the champion momentarily ran out of steam. Meenakshi misjudged a couple of lobs, found herself out of position in the face of stiff smashes from the challenger.

The game went the distance, both players fighting off exhaustion and slippery courts due to the humidity, before the experienced PSPB player gritted her way to the title.

Arvind Bhat (PSPB) clinched the men’s title,

stopping Sachin Ratti (Railways)’s successful run so far in the

tournament with a 21-19, 21-9 victory in the final.

The results: Final: Men: Arvind Bhat (PSPB) bt Sachin Ratti (Railways) 21-19, 21-9; Women: B.R. Meenakshi (Pet) bt Neha Pandit (Mah) 21-12, 25-23.

Men’s doubles: Sanave Thomas (Ker) & Rupesh Kumar (Pet) bt V. Diju (Pet) & Akshay Dewalkar (AI) 21-15, 21-23, 21-16; semifinals: Sanave Thomas & Rupesh Kumar bt Tarun. K (AP) & Arun Vishnu (Kar) 21-13, 21-16; V Diju & Akshay Dewalkar (AI) bt Shankan Gopan & Alwyn Francis (AI) 21-11, 21-11; Mixed doubles: V. Diju & Jwala Gutta (Pet) bt Akshay Dewalkar (AI) & Aparna Balan (Pet) 21-9, 21-11. — Special Correspondent

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