Indian shuttlers get help in preparation for new service rule

BAI has requisitioned the services of well-known technical official Vemuri Sudhakar to help the Indian players prepare for the new service rule.

Technical official Vemuri Sudhakar making a point about the new service rule to the Indian doubles players Ashwini Ponnappa (2nd R) and N. Sikki Reddy (3rd R) and others at Gopi Chand Academy in Hyderabad on Wednesday.   -  V. V. Subrahmanyam

The Badminton Association of India has requisitioned the services of well-known technical official Vemuri Sudhakar to help the Indian players prepare for the new service rule for the year's big events.

The BWF will experiment in the next month's German Open, with the new fixed height service rule – where the shuttle has to hit serve at 1.15 m from the surface of the court. The tournament will be followed by the prestigious All England championship.

The Association has called upon Sudhakar, who has the rare distinction of officiating in three Olympics. He is currently assisting the doubles combinations of former world championship bronze medallist Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy (women) and Manu Attri and B. Sumeeth Reddy (men) at the Gopi Chand Academy.

Sudhakar, armed with an indigenous wooden equipment designed by himself, has been working with the players with emphasis more on doubles.

“For the technical officials, service has always been a problem and controversial. They are under pressure for sure in this regard. So, the BWF's efforts in this regard should solve the problem of service-related faults.  I am sure this would put an end to the possibility of any controversies,” said Sudhakar, who is also a Member of Umpires Assessment Panel of Badminton Asia

“I am grateful to the BAI and to Gopi (chief national coach P. Gopi Chand) for seeking my services to monitor, help and guide the players with this new service rule. For this purpose and to save time, I devised this small equipment (made of wood) to start my job and am really glad with the response of the players so far,” said the 68-year-old Sudhakar.

“For instance, in the first session, there were seven fouls when Manu Attri and his partner were playing as per this new service rule. After explaining them the nitty-gritty and how to rectify the flaw, the fouls have come down to just two from 12 serves,” the reputed technical official said.

“Well, when something is fixed, adherence to that is easy and practically more understandable,” he added.

“Definitely the players, and myself too, seemed to have understood the situation as they try to invariably fall in line,” Sudhakar said.

“I am sure this rule will come to stay by this year end. The reason is pretty simple – the players need not change their style of their game. There are no curbs on that for the restriction is only on height,” he added.

After working with Sudhakar, Ashwini feels confident with the adjustments made. “I really appreciate the initiative of getting Sudhakar sir’s services for our benefit. It is always good to avoid giving away free points even before a rally begins. So, these sessions will definitely help us understand and train accordingly for the coming events,” said Ashwini.

“Yes, the new service rule will have a bigger impact on tall players. Many of them got away with serious fouls earlier. And for someone like me, who always prefer to contact the shuttle low before the serve, it should not be a big issue and we hope to be better players in the coming championship,” said the 28-year-old shuttler after training with her partner Sikki Reddy.

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