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Assisting shuttlers in tackling new rule

Expert advice:Technical official Vemuri Sudhakar, right, is guiding players like Ashwini Ponnappa on the new service rule.V.V. Subrahmanyam

Expert advice:Technical official Vemuri Sudhakar, right, is guiding players like Ashwini Ponnappa on the new service rule.V.V. Subrahmanyam   | Photo Credit: V.V. Subrahmanyam

Bending low to conquer the highs!

With the BWF deciding to experiment the new fixed height service rule — 1.15m from the surface of the court is the height when the shuttle has to be hit for a serve (anything beyond is a foul) — from next month’s German Open, followed by the All England Championship and other majors tournaments, the Badminton Association of India (BAI) has requisitioned the services of well-known technical official Vemuri Sudhakar to help the Indians prepare for big events.

Sudhakar, who has officiated in three Olympics, is assisting the shuttlers with emphasis on the doubles combinations spearheaded by Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy (women) and Manu Attri and B. Sumeeth Reddy (men) at the Gopi Chand Academy.

Armed with an indigenous wooden equipment designed by him, Sudhakar, who is now a member of the Umpires Assessment Panel of Badminton Asia, has been helping the players.

“Service has always been a problem, and is controversial too. The technical officials are under pressure. To address service-related faults, this new rule is being experimented to put an end to the possibility of any controversies,” he said.

Happy with the response

“I am grateful to the BAI for having confidence in my ability to help and guide the players. I devised this small equipment (wooden) and am really glad with the response of the players so far,” said the 68-year-old.

“For instance, in the first session, there were seven fouls when Manu Attri and his partner were trying to implement the new rule. After explaining them how to rectify the errors, the fouls came down to just two from 12 serves from seven the first time they tried,” he said.

“When something is fixed, adherence to that is easy and practically more understandable. The players also seemed to have understood the situation as they try to invariably fall in line. I am sure this rule will come to stay by year-end. The reason is pretty simple — players need not change their style. There are no curbs on that as the restriction is only on height,” Sudhakar added.

“I appreciate the initiative of getting Sudhakar Sir’s services. It’s always good to avoid giving away free points even before a rally begins. These sessions will definitely help us understand and train accordingly,” Ashwini said.

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