Prannoy, the latest Tannoy for Indian badminton

HASEENA SUNIL PRANNOY ... posting a major win.-SANDEEP SAXENA

“This is very special (the Indonesian title). After the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics silver, I had not won any major title. You cannot replace a title with anything. So, this is very special,” Haseena Sunil Prannoy tells V. V. Subrahmanyam.

The long wait has finally ended! Haseena Sunil Prannoy, for long regarded as one of the best young badminton talent by chief national coach Pullela Gopi Chand, has made an impression on the big stage winning the Indonesian Masters men’s singles title recently with a 21-11, 22-20 win over Indonesian Firman Abdul Kholik in the 43-minute final which also fetched him a cheque of $ 9,000.

Prannoy had only a few days before this Indonesian triumph finished runner-up in the Vietnam Grand Prix Open.

Significantly, the 22-year-old Kerala shuttler becomes the third Indian this year to clinch a Grand Prix gold title after Saina Nehwal won the India Grand Prix Gold and Arvind Bhat the German Open.

“This is very special. After the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics silver, I had not won any major title. You cannot replace a title with anything. So, this is very special,” Prannoy, who has returned to Hyderabad, said.

“Yes, it is like better late than never. This title gives me immense joy and could not have come at a more appropriate time. A huge morale-booster even as I look ahead,” says the visibly pleased Prannoy.

“What gives me great pleasure is the way I finished off the match despite it being very close in the second game. There was no doubt that I was completely drained out for the second consecutive final. Fortunately, I did not lose focus. The big points came at the right time and that is why I felt so relieved and delighted,” recalled Prannoy, who has been quite content to be in the shadows of the much more bigger names in the men’s circuit from India like Parupalli Kashyap, Arvind Bhatt and R. M. V. Guru Sai Dutt.

Prannoy’s rise has been steady ever since he joined the Gopi Academy in Hyderabad four years ago. “The whole ambience and the facilities at the Academy are fantastic. You ask for anything it is there. Most importantly, the warmth and camaraderie amongst the players during training sessions is remarkable. I keep talking and sharing anything which helps me improve my game with the senior players and they are all, especially Kashyap, Saina and Guru, very helpful,” said the India No. 2 men’s shuttler. “I am also grateful to the GoSports Foundation for all their support since 2011,” he added.

Prannoy said that there is definitely scope for improvement. “I look at each tournament as a learning curve. For, in every event you come across different players with different styles and you are forced to come up with a changed strategy and often style of game too,” said the 5-foot, 9-inch shuttler.

He agreed that playing for Delhi Smashers in the high-profile Indian Badminton League helped him a lot. “Yes, that League gave a wonderful opportunity to meet and see so many players. Pick up a few things by just watching their training sessions too,” he recalled.

Unlike many of the champions from the Academy, Prannoy believes in talking to his mentor and coach Gopi Chand only before and after a big event. “Somehow I feel more comfortable in doing this. This is enough for me to give off my best. He is a such a wonderful personality and always to the point without wasting any words to help you,” were Prannoy’s compliments.

For someone who is ranked World No. 43 now (he had a career-best ranking of World No. 34 some time back), Prannoy is keen on improving his world rankings too. “Yes. But, again, this comes automatically if you keep performing well as the rankings are great motivational factors themselves. I am already in the preparatory mode for the French and the Bitburger Opens and hope to do well,” he says.