Mann ouwits Madhwin in French Open junior wild card tournament

The tall and strongly built Mann Maulik Shah, understandably not that agile with his movements, had a high degree of concentration to play close to his best against a strong competitor who failed to capitalise on the chances.

Mann Maulik Shah is ranked 84 in the ITF junior list.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

Mann Maulik Shah handled the tricky first set with composure and competence to outwit fellow trainee from Ahmedabad, Madhwin Kamath 7-6(1), 6-2 in the boys final of the French Open junior wild card tennis tournament on the clay courts of the DLTA Complex on Wednesday.

The tall and strongly built Mann, understandably not that agile with his movements, had a high degree of concentration to play close to his best against a strong competitor who failed to capitalise on the chances.

Interestingly, after being down 2-4, Madhwin clawed his way back with his all-round game, and even held a set point in the tenth game. However, Mann came up with a service winner to wriggle out of the tight situation. Mann handled the stage well at 30-30 in the 12th game when he was serving to force the tie-break.

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Madhwin went on to win the tie-breaker.

Mann, ranked 84 in the ITF junior list, held on to the momentum to run up a 3-0 lead with a break in the second game. That looked to have taken the sting away from Madhwin’s challenge on a hot afternoon.

All the three coaches from Ahmedabad Jignesh Raval, Shrimal Bhat and Pawan Patel were on hand to watch their wards in the final. The two leading coaches Jignesh and Shrimal had combined and collaborated with Alexander Waske Tennis-University in Germany, where Prajnesh Gunneswaran among other leading Indian players had trained for many
years, in an attempt to take the game forward in the country.

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Earlier, the tall and wiry Humera Shaikh handled a shaky start to beat Sarah Dev 7-5, 6-3 in the girls final.

It was an improvement for Humera who had lost the final of the same tournament to Mahak Jain in 2016.

It was Sarah who led 4-2 and 5-4 in the first set, capitalising on the wet court and her crafty stroke play. However, the trainee of Harvest Tennis Academy, Jassowal, Sarah lacked the conviction in her ability, even as Humera found the rhythm in her strokes.

After losing the first set from a position of strength, Sarah broke Humera’s serve in the first game of the second set, to suggest a fight. But, Humera swung the match around by getting the break back immediately and stepping up on her game for a smooth finish.

Like Mann Shah, Humera also did not drop a set in the eight-player knock-out event.

The two champions were presented their symbolic Paris boarding cards by the Olympic champion and seven-time Grand Slam champion Justine Henin.

Mann and Humera will compete with the champions from China and Brazil in a league format in Paris. The boys and girls champions from that event will get the wild card for the French Open junior event.

In the last four years, Abhimanyu Vannem Reddy was the only Indian player who had capitalised on the ticket to Paris to compete in the French Open junior event, in 2017.

The results (finals):

Boys: Mann Maulik Shah bt Madhwin Kamath 7-6(1), 6-2; Third place:
Kabir Hans w.o. Dev Javia.

Girls: Humera Shaikh bt Sarah Dev 7-5, 6-3; Third place: Bhakti Shah
w.o. Salsa Aher.

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