Even as the second rung of players were battling out on the adjacent courts, it was the seasoned duo of Chetan Anand and V. Diju which was the cynosure of all eyes as it overcame the young Manipur pair of M. Khwairakpam and D. Konthoujam 16-21, 21-19, 22-20 in the men’s doubles first round of the Senior National badminton championship here on Saturday.
Former National champion Chetan and Diju virtually dished out a lesson in the art of scoring points in crunch time for the truly spirited Manipur boys, who incidentally train in the Gopi Chand Academy.
It was not just the way they fought back but also the manner both the internationals showed how to slow down the shuttle in the decider which unnerved the young Manipuri duo.
Chetan corrected a reporter when he referred to them as veterans. “Please call us seniors or men not veterans,” he said with a smile even while gently reminding that he and Diju want to play regularly in the doubles. “I still enjoy my game and would love to keep playing as long as I can,” he signed off.
Earlier, 17-year-old former World junior No. 1 A.S.S. Siril Verma, whom chief national coach P. Gopi Chand is keen to play now more in the seniors circuit, began his campaign in style with a fluent 21-11, 21-14 win over Talar Laa.
International R.M.V. Guru Sai Dutt was also off to a convincing start with a 21-11, 21-9 victory over Ratikanta Saha in another first round match.
Men: First round: Ritesh Kothari bt D.A.S. Rajshekar 21-16, 21-13; Ranjan Yadav bt P. Ruthvik Kiran 21-9, 21-4 (retd.); A.S.S. Siril Verma bt Talar Laa 21-11, 21-14; Maisnam Meiraba bt Sushanta Rout 21-11, 21-6; Chiraj Sen bt K. Sathish Kumar 21-14, 22-20; R.M.V. Guru Sai Dutt bt Ratikanta Saha 21-11, 21-9.
Women: Second round: Riya Pillai bt Prashi Joshi 21-18, 21-11; K. Kanwal bt M. Kshetrimayum 21-15, 21-7; M. Tanishq bt A.J. Niranjana 21-16, 21; Riya Mookerjee bt Niteshi Saini 21-15, 21-11; Shruti Mundada bt L. Rinzuali 21-19, 21-12; G. Ruthvika Shivani bt Unnati Bist 21-13, 21-13; Ira Sharma bt Divyanshi Sharma 21-12, 21-18; Dipti Kuity bt Mudra Dhainje 16-21, 21-15, 21-16; Dapasha Joshi bt Najma Khan 21-12, 21-16; Deepali Gupta bt Shivani Santosh Singh 21-17, 21-15; Mansi Singh bt Likhita Srivastava 21-5, 21-12; Rithika Thaker bt Mehreen Riza 21-13, 21-9; Mrunmayi Saoji bt Akshaya Arumugam 21-9, 21-11.