Family support helps Praneeth trump Srikanth

When Hyderabad Hunters’ B. Sai Praneeth lost his first three matches in the ongoing Premier Badminton League, he needed some extra support from his friends and family.

B. Sai Praneeth's family members enjoying the proceedings at the Nehru Indoor Stadium on Sunday.   -  Special Arrangement

When the going gets tough, any sportsman’s secret weapon would be unleashing his best game to silence critics. However, in the background, the support of family and friends can never be negated.

When Hyderabad Hunters’ B. Sai Praneeth lost his first three matches in the ongoing Premier Badminton League, he needed some extra support from his friends and family.

And he got them in abundance as he brought out his best game in drubbing his friend Kidambi Srikanth of Awadhe Warriors to register his first win of the PBL season three.

As he went around dominating Srikanth, in what would be a repeat of the Singapore Superseries Final, around 15 members from his family were present to see him end his drought.

It was the family’s maiden outing in this season’s PBL and it turned out to the sweetest moment. “We are happy for him as he was finally able to end his losing streak in the tournament. He has a superior head-to-head record against Srikanth but we can never say never in this sport. We are all elated,” B.S Deekshitulu, Praneeth’s father said.

Armed with children and grandchildren, the happiest of the lot was Praneeth’s grandfather, C.S. Shiva Shanker Rao. It was under Rao’s guidance that Praneeth took up to the sport. “My daughter (Praneeth’s aunt) played badminton at the national level and it is probably that gene that runs in Praneeth too. After he won his first tournament at the age of 10, I took him to Mr. Arif in Hyderabad who assessed him and accepted him as his ward. Since then, there has been no looking back for him,” the septuagenarian said.

It was Rao who used to accompany Praneeth all over the country and help him participate in various tournaments.

Just like any other parent, Praneeth’s father too emphasised the need of education taking precedence over sport. “I am glad he has proved me wrong now. Till he won a couple of titles and proved his interest in the game, I tried to persuade him to concentrate on studies. But it is now a different scenario,” Deekshitulu added.

Praneeth’s brother, B. Sai Praveen, who studies engineering in Hyderabad said it is going to be a late night for the family. “We are sure to spend the next couple of hours partying and enjoying this win. We haven’t decided on anything yet, but we are sure to enjoy this moment,” he concluded.