Senior Nationals: Lakshya Sen enters final

While Rituparna Das will meet Reshma Karthik in women's final, 15-year-old Lakshaya Sen will face experienced Sourabh Verma in the men's final.

Uttarakhand's 15-year-old prodigy Lakshya Sen continued his fairytale run.   -  Ranjeet Kumar

It wasn’t a cracker of singles semifinals that one expected, given the stature of some of the players at the 81st senior National badminton championships at the Patliputra Sports Complex here on Monday.

It was a tragedy that all matches were one-sided, and even worse the contest between the two brothers, Sourabh and Sameer Verma, who did not play to their potential.

Especially, the second seed and defending champion Sameer. Having seen him play at his best till the quarterfinals, Sameer’s 21-16, 21-16 defeat to his elder brother was shocking. His movement on the court looked lethargic and his net play subdued. Overall, it appeared that the two had come for the match “prepared”.

Bright spot

On the other hand, Lakshya Sen’s performance was a bright spot. The 15-year-old’s game has been a treat and his shot selection and execution top class.

On Monday, the teenager from Uttarakhand dismantled Harsheel Dani of Maharashtra, the fourth seed, 21-12, 21-13. A tall player and a left-hander to boot, Harsheel’s strengths have been his smashes and taking the shuttle early, thereby flummoxing the opponent.

But Lakshya nullified everything with smashes of his own, coupled with tactical net play. More often than not, Lakshya put Harsheel on the wrong foot with deft half-smashes and forehand cross court drops from the backcourt. If Lakshya wins the singles title, he will become the youngest to do so.

In the women’s section, Arundhati Pantawane looked dazed and did not play her natural game. The former National Games winner and a National championship finalist, bowed out tamely to Rituparna Das of Telangana 21-11, 21-10.

Rituparna has been steady throughout the championship. Her footwork might appear lethargic but has been effective. The second seed, looking for her first title in three finals will keen to break the jinx. She had lost in the final of the Delhi and Vijayawada National championships.

Reshma Karthik has had issues with a dodgy ankle anda troublesome back. The 20-year-old from Bangalore did win an All-India senior ranking title two years in Pune. Since then, she has largely been in the wilderness.

By reaching the final, defeating the 15-year-old Aakarshi Kashyap of Chhattisgarh and the top seed Tanvi Lad in the quarters, she seems to have put the past behind her.

Interestingly, barring Sourabh who had bagged the title in 2011-12, the rest will be aiming for their first National crown.

The results:

Men (singles): Semifinals: Lakshya Sen (Utr) bt Harsheel Dani 21-12, 21-13; Sourabh Verma (Pet) bt Sameer Verma (Pet) 21-16, 21-16;

(Quarterfinals): Lakshya bt S. Daniel Farid (Kar) 21-11, 19-21, 21-19; Harsheel (Mah) bt Aditya Prakash (Pet) 21-12, 21-18; Sourabh bt A.S.S. Siril Verma (TS) 21-16, 21-13; Sameer Verma bt Pratul Joshi (AAI) 21-9, 21-11.

Men's doubles (Semifinals): K. Nanda Gopal (CAG) & Sanyam Shukla (AI) bt G. Krishna Prasad (AP) & Dhruv Kapila (AI) 21-10, 21-12; R. Satwik Sai Raj (AP) & Chirag Shetty (AAI) bt Bennet Antony & M. Arjun Kumar Reddy (CAG) 21-16, 21-17.

Women (singles): Semifinals: Reshma Karthik (AI) bt Aakarshi Kashyap (Cht) 21-10, 21-12; Rituparna Das (TS) bt Arundhati Pantawane (Pet) 21-11, 21-10; (Quarterfinals): Women: Reshma bt Tanvi Lad (Pet) 22-20, 21-13; Aakarshi bt Riya Pillai (Mah) 21-9, 21-14; Arundhati bt Saili Rane (Rly) 21-16, 17-21, 21-17; Rituparna bt Rasika Raje (AAI) 21-17, 21-18.

Women doubles (Semifinals): Aparna Balan (Pet) & Prajakta Sawant (Pet) bt Mahima Aggarwal (AAI) & K. Maneesha (AI) 21-13, 21-11; Shikha Gautam (Kar) & Sanyogita Ghorpade (Mah) bt K.P. Sruthi & M.H. Haritha (Ker) 21-14, 21-16.

Mixed doubles (semifinals): R. Satwik Sai Raj (AP) & K. Maneesha (AI) bt Dhruv Kapila (AI) & Kuhoo Garg (Utr) 21-18, 21-13; Venkat Gaurav Prasad & Juhi Dewangan (Cht) w/o Akshay Dewalkar (Mah) & Aparna (Pet) .

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