Lakshya Sen: ‘I wish to become an allrounder’

India’s Lakshya Sen is cognisant of the challenges ahead when competing in the seniors category; he is ready to adapt to a higher level of speed and fitness.

Clinical display: Lakshya Sen (in picture) defeated Thailand’s Kunlavut Vitidsarn 21-15, 21-10 in the Tata Open final.   -  Emmanual Yogini

Lakshya Sen is conscious of the expectations from him when he steps on to the badminton court. Hand-picked by Prakash Padukone and identified as a promising trainee from the Bengaluru-based Prakash Padukone badminton academy, Lakshya is aware that association with a legend from the sport comes with responsibility.

“I am aware [of my responsibility], so I try to conduct myself well, taking this into consideration that people following the sport are becoming aware of the connection,” the soft-spoken 17-year-old Indian said.

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Lakshya’s talent has helped him make friends with players he ruthlessly deals with on court, such as Thailand’s Kunlavut Vitidsarn. Lakshya said, “We are already friends. I have been twice before to Thailand [and] trained together at his academy (Ban Thongyod Badminton Academy in Bangkok).”

No rhythm

Vitidsarn, a fellow 17-year-old and the 2018 BWF World Junior champion, was not allowed to settle into any rhythm by Lakshya, when the two clashed at the Tata Open on Sunday. Vitidsarn was rattled by angled returns and court coverage.

Sitthikom Thammasin (in picture) had defeated Lakshya Sen in the 2017 Tata Open. Photo: PTI

 

This was the first face-off between them this year in the senior category, and for Lakshya, a second consecutive final at the tourney. In 2017, he had been defeated in the final by Thailand’s Sitthikom Thammasin. Thammasin could not defend his title in 2018, leaving his Indian rival to contest the final against his compatriot.

Different levels of ‘speed and fitness’

Lakshya was cognisant of the challenges ahead for the juniors champions when they compete in the senior category. He said: “Speed and fitness is different in the seniors; once you get faster, strokeplay and getting into position gets better. I wish to become an allrounder.”

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Lakshya, who won USD 1875 for winning the BWF-sanctioned event, is getting a hang of how to equip oneself on and off the court, when stepping into the seniors circuit. Earlier this year, he took the legendary Lin Dan to three games at the New Zealand Open. “It was an eye-opener of what is expected at the international level,” he said, adding: “Mental strength is as important as technical qualities in a game. We work a lot on this aspect in training.”