Jwala Gutta feels doubles players should get their due

The premier doubles player, who was once ranked World No. 6 and 10 (last time in 2015, partnering Ashwini Ponnappa), has repeatedly said that doubles has never been the priority in Indian badminton.

Jwala Gutta... back after a four-month break.   -  PTI

For someone who has achieved more than any Indian woman shuttler in doubles badminton — including a World Championship bronze (partnering Ashwini Ponnappa) — Jwala Gutta is in no mood to give up after a four-month break after the Rio Olympics.

The premier doubles player, who was once ranked World No. 6 and 10 (last time in 2015, partnering Ashwini Ponnappa), repeats that doubles has never been the priority in Indian badminton.

“I don’t see any change in Indian badminton in this perspective. It continues to be singles-oriented. I don’t blame anyone except the people who govern the sport with their pathetic attitude towards doubles. Look at Japan, Korea and China, they have four to five teams on stand-by. Here, look how we are struggling now in doubles. Unfortunately, when it comes to a team event only, we give importance to doubles,” explained Jwala in an exclusive interview to Sportstar.

“It is sad that people forget that me and V. Diju (mixed doubles) were the first Indians to enter the finals of a Super Series and it is me and Ashwini who won the Commonwealth Games gold and also the World Championship bronze (the first by any Indian after the legendary Prakash Padukone). And, this is why no one can question my opinion in this regard. I don’t care to reply to those who don’t deserve except my coach and parents,” said a visibly furious Jwala.

The flamboyant shuttler from Hyderabad quickly recovers her poise to remind that she warded off some of the toughest challenges including some trying to stop her from playing the sport. “I pity them; they couldn’t do that, for I am a fighter and will remain the same for a right cause,” she said.

“Yes, this year has not been great or the way I would have loved to be but at the same time I am not disappointed. I am glad that I am still competing in the circuit,” said the 14-times national doubles champion (in both women’s and mixed doubles).

“It is a funny feeling to be the senior-most player in Indian badminton now. I remember the days when I was the junior-most. But, I am enjoying this role too and more importantly can still contribute to Indian badminton,” the 33-year-old said.

She will be representing the Delhi Aces in the upcoming Pro Badminton League. Speaking on the Delhi team, Jwala reminded that it may not be the strongest on paper, “but has some very interesting players like the Russians who can pull off major surprises. We will give our best and will be a force to reckon with given the mix of experience and youth we have.”

Speaking on the PBL concept, the seasoned campaigner felt she was actually expecting more teams in the forthcoming edition. “That would have meant more matches and opportunities for the players. But again, it is for the bosses to tell the reason for continuing with the same number of teams,” she remarked.

“Yes, the PBL schedule is going to be very hectic, demanding and tiring too. There is little gap for any player to recoup after gruelling encounters out there on the court. It is really going to test every aspect of a player,” Jwala observed.

On what could be the biggest challenge for her after parting ways with Ashwini, Jwala said that it was a well thought out decision and she doesn’t look at partnering with a new player as a challenge. “Let us see how things shape up,” she added.

“Right now, the focus is on mixed doubles (with Manu Attri). We have not trained together since he is playing in the circuit. But being good friends over the years I am sure we will form a formidable combination,” she concluded.