SPORT

Ranjeet claims National title

CHAMPION: V.M. Ranjeet had an easy ride against Sriram Balaji in the final on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: S. Subramanium

Special Correspondent

TENNIS / Sriram lacked the punch in his game

NEW DELHI: Top seed V.M. Ranjeet overwhelmed Sriram Balaji 6-3, 6-4 in the final of the DSCL National men’s tennis championship, at the DLTA Complex here on Saturday.

It was a diluted championship, meant to ensure continuity, with a winner’s purse of Rs. 30,000, a far cry to the one lakh rupees that was presented till last year.

Yet, Ranjeet played with utmost sincerity, not bothering about the rewards, in winning himself the valuable tag of the National champion.

“It went as expected. I have been playing well from the beginning. I was serving well today and I had a good week. It is nice to be the national champion,” said Ranjeet.

The only blemish was that Ranjeet dropped serve in the seventh game while serving for the first set. He failed to convert four set-points in the eighth game on Sriram’s serve, but served it out smoothly in the next game.

Into the second set, Sriram gifted a break in the third game, with a double-fault on breakpoint, and Ranjeet stepped up his game to cruise through, though he had to save a breakpoint in the eighth game.

While Ranjeet was quite solid physically, technically and mentally, Sriram lacked the punch in his game and clarity of approach to make a fight of it.

Solid game

“I was taking one match at a time. I was playing solid tennis. This used to be the biggest tournament in the country. It was much toned down this time. I saw it an opportunity to prove myself,” said Ranjeet.

The All India Tennis Association (AITA) had announced that the national champion would get a wild card for the Chennai Open ATP Tour event, but the three wild cards were already given away before the national championship began.

“I will go and play the qualifying event in the Chennai Open,” said Ranjeet, taking the disappointment in his stride.

The cheerful and soft-spoken Chennai lad, who had trained with coach Ilyas Hussain over the years, expressed his gratitude to the physical trainer Mohammed Riaz.

“We had worked for the last five or six years on my physical fitness. The results are slowing coming up,” he said.

The champion collected 35 AITA points apart from Rs. 30,000 while the runner-up pocketed Rs. 20,000 and 25 AITA ranking points.