Kalyan Ashok

BANGALORE: The winsome trio of Ruth Misha, Ashwini Ponnappa and Nitya Sosale did Karnataka proud when they cornered glory in the National junior badminton championship held at Nellore last week.

Though Karnataka had produced a great champion like Prakash Padukone and later the National No.1 Anup Sridhar, the State had always lacked a truly home grown woman champion. That void is being filled by these three 18-year-old lasses, who incidentally train at the Tata Padukone Badminton Academy. Ruth won the girls’ singles title, while Ashwini and Nitya became the girls doubles champion pair.

Great season

Ruth has been having a great season. The confident youngster, who plays a technically sound game, seems to have become more consistent.

She showed that her recent victory over arch-rival Sikki Reddy in the Union Bank all-India junior-ranking championship held at Bangalore a few months ago, was no flash in the pan when she conquered Sikki again at the Nellore Nationals, braving a stomach upset. “It could have been a better win, but for my physical condition on that day,” recalled Ruth.

A student of Mount Carmel College here, Ruth had her share of overseas exposure and played in a string of international tournaments, which has indeed improved her skills.

Nitya and Ashwini, the childhood friends, have become an unbeatable pair on the circuit. They had won two successive sub-junior National doubles titles before claiming their maiden junior National doubles title last year, which they successfully retained at Nellore. They complement each other well on court and share similar interests in life as well.

The rigorous workouts at the TPBA and constant exposure to big events at home and abroad have indeed paid off for these three players. Besides measuring up to the demands of the game, they have to cope up with the pressure of academics and to their credit all three are good in studies as well.

Although Ashwini missed the South Zone inter-State meet, Ruth and Nitya, played a key role in Karnataka wining the women’s team title.

Bigger challenges

Though they have conquered the junior frontiers, there are bigger challenges ahead. As their coach at TPBA, U. Vimal Kumar observed “Now it is time that they play more senior tournaments and face bigger challenges.”

“We are ready for it,” said the triumphant trio.

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