Rohan, Saina clinch under-19 titles

BANGALORE Sept. 21. Rohan Castelino and Saina Nehwal clinched the boys and girls' under-19 singles titles respectively in the Union Bank All-India junior ranking badminton tournament that concluded at the KBA Courts here on Sunday.

Rohan, the third-seed from Karnataka, weathered a late surge from second seeded Sagar Chopda of Maharashtra and won the final at 15-11, 15-11 while Andhra's Saina Nehwal lived up to her top billing and defeated Kerala's Aparna Balan 11-1, 11-3.

It was a double for Saina as she earlier clinched the under-16 singles title with a 11-3, 11-5 victory over Maharashtra's Sonal More.

The boys under-19 final pitted Rohan's power play against the measured approach of Sagar Chopda. Rohan started on a positive note while mixing up a drop, lob and smash to wrest the first point of the final. And he kept edging ahead while Chopda busy playing a waiting game got into a predictable groove and was left in the shadows. Rohan also used a deceptive drop and was alert close to the net while often essaying diagonal shots that unnerved Chopda.

Rohan won the first game with a sharp drop at 15-11 and continued to race ahead in the second game and led at 8-2 before Chopda effected a turnaround. Chopda, who often wrested points by playing on the pace off Castelino's shots, shifted gears and did unleash a few crosscourt smashes that had Castelino thinking. However the fightback proved brief as a Castelino return of serve found the line and left Chopda stranded. Castelino soon won the final despite the serve changing ends constantly at match point.

``Initially I found it a little tough as he (Chopda) dribbled well with the pace off my shots but I got used to it. I am happy with the way I played,'' said Castelino, who is fast recovering from an eye injury that often tests him when light flashes on to his eyes. Today's victory was a definite boost for the promising 18-year old pre-university student.

Rohan may have had his testing moments but for Saina it proved to be an easy stroll as Aparna Balan failed to fathom the top-seed's smashes in the girls' under-19 final. Saina with a deft turn off the wrist often varied her smashes and with some often scraping past the net while others steepled towards the backcourt, Aparna was often caught on the wrong foot and never got a toehold in a one-sided encounter.

Earlier, Karnataka's G.M. Nandeesh (boys under-16) and Aditya Prakash (boys under-13) emerged champions but a near perfect evening for the hosts was spoilt by Andhra's J. Harish who defeated local lad Vinay Hari 15-11, 15-13 in the boys' under-10 final. Andhra had another moment to cheer as I.R.D. Shravani bagged the girls under-13 singles title defeating Gujarat's Vaishali Baria 11-7, 11-6.

The results:

Boys Under-19 singles (final): Rohan Castelino (Kar) bt Sagar Chopda (Mah) 15-11, 15-11. Semi-finals: Rohan Castelino bt Utsav Prakash (Kar) 9-15, 15-9, 15-4; Sagar Chopda bt V. Amar (Kar) 17-15, 15-11.

Under-16 singles (final): G.M. Nandeesh (Kar) bt Jishnu Sanyal (WB) 17-14, 15-4. Semi-finals: Jishnu Sanyal bt Ajay Jayaram (Mah) 17-15, 16-17, 17-16; G.M. Nandeesh (Kar) bt I.S. Naveen Kumar (AP) 15-5, 15-7.

Doubles (final): G.M. Nandeesh (Kar)/Shankar Gopan (Ker) bt B.J. Anup/D.M. Pratik (Kar) 15-13, 15-6.

Under-13 singles (final): Aditya Prakash (Kar) bt Rajkumar (Punj) 15-11, 12-15, 15-8. Semi-finals: Raj Kumar bt Amay Merchant (Mah) 15-8, 15-3; Aditya Prakash bt Phaneendra Pasare (Kar) 15-1, 15-5.

Under-10 singles (final): J. Harsha (AP) bt Vinay Hari (Kar) 15-11, 15-13. Semi-finals: J. Harsha bt N.V.S. Vijetha (AP) 15-11, 15-0; Vinay Hari bt Naresh (AP) 11-15, 15-11, 15-3.

Doubles (final): Vinay Hari/Shashank Menon (Kar) bt Rajas Jwalkar/Himanshu Kotbagi (Kar) 15-4, 13-15, 15-13.

Girls Under-19 singles (final): Saina Nehwal (AP) bt Aparna Balan (Ker) 11-1, 11-3. Semi-finals: Saina Nehwal bt Neha Rane (Mah) 11-8, 13-11; Sonal More (Mah) bt Neha Pandit (Mah) 11-6, 11-9.

Under-16 singles (final): Saina Nehwal bt Sonal More (Mah) 11-3, 11-5. Semi-finals: Saina Nehwal bt Neha Rane (Mah) 11-8, 13-11; Sonal More bt Neha Pandit (Mah) 11-6, 11-9.

Doubles (final): G.M. Nischitha/Madhuri Vijay (Kar) bt Ashwini Ponnappa/Nitya Sosale (Kar) 15-4, 15-11.

Under-13 singles (final): I.R.D. Shravani (AP) bt Vaishali Baria (Guj) 11-7, 11-6. Semi-finals: I.R.D. Shravani bt Shruthi Sridhar (Kar) 11-1, 11-6; Vaishali Baria bt G. Divya (AP) 11-1, 11-7. Doubles (final): I.R.D. Shravani/Jancy James (AP) bt Adfa Taqui (Kar)/P.C. Thulasi (Ker) 15-9, 15-7.

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