Ashwini Ponnappa, one India’s most successful women’s doubles badminton players, is astonished that there is no women’s doubles event in any of the professional leagues in India.
Speaking to Sportstar on the sidelines of the National finals of the Red Bull shuttle up women’s doubles tournament here on Friday, Ashwini said: “It is astonishing that in the leagues we have, there is no women’s doubles (WD), be it the Premier Badminton League (PBL) or the Grand Prix Badminton League in Bengaluru. In badminton there is gender parity in prize money. Playing with top players from India and abroad will be a great experience for our young players. I have learnt a lot playing in PBL,” she said.
After splitting with Sikki Reddy in women’s doubles, Ashwini said she has taken a break and is now focussed on mixed doubles with her new partner Pratheek, a promising 22-year-old.
“We have started well, winning gold in the National Games in Gujarat and the Infosys International Challenge. We have the German Open (visa issues need to be sorted out), the Bahrain and Bangladesh International Challenge. Our focus is to reach the World’s top 100 sooner than later,” she said.
On finding a new partner in women’s doubles, Ashwini said she is not in a hurry to find one. “I don’t want to jump into a new partner. I am not too sure. I would like to find a partner by the end of the year. And also playing with new partners in women’s and mixed doubles requires lots of work,” she said.
Ashwini found success with Jwala Gutta–the two won the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold and the 2011 World championships bronze–and credits it to their innate understanding of each other’s game. “Our game styles matched a lot. No one really sat and talked about our games. As a junior player, I am happy that I could rise to the occasion. It is quite possible to replicate my earlier success. It’s one step at a time,” she said.