Pune Challenger: Vijay Sundar Prashanth stops Banthia

Prashanth will run into Croatian Borna Gojo in the final qualifying round on Monday.

The 31-year-old Prashanth closed out an one-and-half hour absorbing match with an ace at 6-2, 4-6, 6-1.   -  Special Arrangement

A seasoned campaigner in ITF and Challenger events, N. Vijay Sundar Prashanth, staved off a plucky effort from junior Siddanth Banthia in the men’s singles second qualifying round of the $50000 KPIT-MSLTA ATP Challenger tournament at the Mhalunghe-Balewadi Tennis Complex on Sunday.

The 31-year-old Prashanth closed out an one-and-half hour absorbing match with an ace at 6-2, 4-6, 6-1. Prashanth will run into Croatian Borna Gojo in the final qualifying round on Monday.

Playing his first Challenger event, the 17-year-old Banthia, raised his game in the second set, getting most of his first serves, volleys and groundstrokes right to force the match to the decider; but simply lost strength and steam to compete with an opponent -14 years older to him - who was quite solid and steady from the back court.

Banthia’s intent to go for broke too soon, prevented him from making things little tougher for Prashanth in the third set.

However Banthia, who was close to getting a wild card for the main draw, did not seem very disappointed by the result. "These are the two best matches I have played (Siddharth Vishwakarma in the first qualifying round and Prashanth). I had prepared well for this tournament.

"My game is built around serve and volley; they are my weapons. I will spend the next two months in off-season training and focus on the junior Grand Slams next year. I want to win a junior Grand Slam title. That’s my aim. I will also play the tournaments before the Grand Slam events,’’ said Banthia.

While Banthia impressed in patches, Jayesh Pungliya lost to France’s Antoine Escoffier in straight sets and Ranjeet Virali-Murugesan, pulled out of the match complaining of stomach upset.

Australian Alexie Popyrin had held his first service game when the Indian decided to retire.  India’s Lakshit Sood lost to Kazakhstan’s Timur Khabibulin and Chandril Sood lost to Japan’s Kaichi Uchida.

In the last match played in one of the outside courts, Sidharth Rawat brought some cheer by winning his match against Shalva Dzhanashia. Rawat fired 12 aces to win the match that lasted two hours and seven minutes.

Results (Qualifying round 2) N. Vijay-Sundar Prashant (Ind) bt Siddanth Banthia (Ind) 6-2,4-6,6-1; Antoine Escoffier (France) bt Jayesh Pungliya (Ind) 6-3, 6-1; Alexie Popyrin (Australia) b R. Virali-Murugesan 1-0 (Retd); Borna Gojo (Croatia) bt Clement Geens (Belgium) 7-5, 6-3, S Rawat (India) bt Shavla Dzanashia (Russia) 4-6, 7-5, 6-2, Timur Khabibulin (Khazakhstan) bt Lakshit Sood (India) 6-4, 6-4, Kaichi Uchida (Japan) bt Chandril Sood (India) 6-0, 6-1.