Sayali has a point to prove

Sayali Gokhale is lifted by her coach Anil Modak after her victory over P. C. Thulasi in the final.-A. M. FARUQUI

Many would consider Sayali Gokhale as a surprise winner at the National Championship. The women's singles champion was not hoping to walk away with the title.

"I had trained hard prior to the event and was mentally prepared, but I never thought I would win the title. I took it (the tournament) match by match and I was playing better with each round. It was in the final that I felt pretty confident, that I could at last win the title," she said.

The 20-year-old, who had most of her early training in her hometown, Pune, principally under coach Anil Modak, moved to Bangalore two years ago to join the Tata Padukone Badminton Academy.

"I dedicate my win to all my coaches," said Sayali, who has now set her sights on the Indian Open in Hyderabad in April. "I wish to perform well in Hyderabad and prove that this win was no fluke," said the youngster.

Sayali wishes to add more power to her game and improve her smashes. She also wants to be a lot quicker on the court.

"She deserved her win and she was consistent and worked hard for her victory. Yes, she could be a lot more aggressive and go for her shots. I am sure this win would make her aim high," said coach Vimal Kumar.

KALYAN ASHOK