Sindhu back to domestic grind for AP

Seventeen-year-old shuttler Drithi Yateesh took on the Olympic medallist in the women’s singles fixture on Thursday.

India's champion shuttler P.V. Sindhu, representing Andhra Pradesh, with Karnataka's Drithi Yateesh, before the start of women's singles match in the team event of South Zone inter-state badminton championship in Hyderabad on Thursday.   -  V.V. SUBRAHMANYAM

For 17-year-old Drithi Yateesh of Karnataka, it was a dream come true taking on Olympic and Worlds silver medallist P.V. Sindhu in the women’s singles — which was the first match of the senior mixed team event semifinal against Andhra Pradesh in the South Zone inter-state badminton championshp at JHIC here on Thursday.

To her credit, from the start, Drithi was confidence personified and rarely showed any signs of nerves.

“It is a great opportunity for me to play for the first time against such a great player. I have prepared as I do for any other player. I had my own gameplan. No doubt, it is an inspirational experience to play,” Drithi informed Sportstar after the match.

“I must thank Sindhu for teaching me the importance of being consistent with my strokes during the match. This is what I must keep improving as I am sure I will be playing her more often in the future,” says a smiling Drithi, who admires Chinese Taipei superstar Tai Tzu-Ying even as her mother, armed with a camera, was recording the entire match as they feel it is an opportunity that doesn’t come that easily.

For her part, a composed Sindhu, who was off to a sluggish start before showing her class, praised the opponent.

“She looks good and confident. Can go a long way. In fact, I am glad to see so many young talent promising a lot in this championship,” said Sindhu who represented Andhra Pradesh.

“This is the first championship I am playing for AP after winning the 2016 Olympic medal and becoming Deputy Collector in AP Government,” she said with a hearty laugh.

“It is always nice to play in a domestic tournament. But, again one should remember that we are always willing to compete in these events provided they don’t clash with the international engagements,” she said even as fans, fellow players and officials mobbed her for autographs and selfies.

Even Kidambi Srikanth later on played for Andhra Pradesh, for the first time, in this championship.