Siddhant, Malikaa bag top honours

Siddhant Banthia and Malikaa Marathe asserted their supremacy by running away with the boys and girls titles in the Rendezvous Roland Garros Masters junior tennis tournament on the clay courts of the DLTA Complex on Wednesday.

Former World No.1 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario with Siddhant Banthia and Malikaa Marathe in New Delhi on Wednesday.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

Siddhant Banthia and Malikaa Marathe asserted their supremacy by running away with the boys and girls titles in the Rendezvous Roland Garros Masters junior tennis tournament on the clay courts of the DLTA Complex on Wednesday.

Top seed Siddhant Banthia, easily the best junior in the country with a world rank of 71, outplayed Abhimanyu Vannem Reddy for the loss of one game. Second seed Malikaa, an eighth standard student from Pune who trains with coach Hemant Bendrey, stopped Yubrani Banerjee in her stride with a 6-1, 6-3 victory, in the girls final.

“It is a great opportunity for the champions to play at the French Open. Keep working hard,” said the former World No.1 singles and doubles star, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, who presented the symbolic boarding pass for Paris. The two champions will compete along with five others each from China, Korea, Japan, Brazil and US. The champion of that event in Paris will get a French Open junior wild card.

The way he has been playing, Siddhant Banthia may not need the wild card to get into the French Open main draw. He had played in the Australian Open and had made the doubles quarterfinals apart from holding a matchpoint in the singles first round. However, for the 13-year-old Malika, who has not played in the ITF junior circuit yet, it was an unforgettable triumph, as she repeated her performance in Pune where she had clinched the title as a qualifier.

“I wanted to perform well here. Am glad that I could win. My opponent in the final was hitting hard, but I adjusted to the pace. I could have played better,” said Malikaa. Yubrani Banerjee had played an energy-sapping semifinal, and had survived a matchpoint to get past Radhika Yadav in a three-hour semifinal the previous day. Understandably, she could not run as well as she can, in the final.

It was almost a similar case for Abhimanyu Vannem Reddy who had played two tough matches on Tuesday and did not have adequate energy to challenge a player of the calibre of Siddhant Banthia.

The results:

Boys (final): Siddhant Banthia bt Abhimanyu Vannem Reddy 6-1, 6-0.

Third place: Rishabh Sharda bt Dipin Wadhwa 7-5, 6-2.

Girls (final): Malikaa Marathe bt Yubrani Banerjee 6-1, 6-3.

Third place: Radhika Yadav bt Prerna Vichare 6-4 (conceded).