Mahak Jain, Dalwinder Singh crowned national champions

Mahak Jain defeated top seed Zeel Desai 7-5, 6-3 for the women’s title in the Fenesta National tennis championship. Dalwinder Singh put on a dynamic display in outplaying top seed Suraj Prabodh 6-3, 6-4 for the men’s title

The national tennis champions Dalwinder Singh and Mahak Jain with India’s star gymnast Dipa Karmakar in Delhi on Saturday.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

She packs quite a punch in her small frame. With a strong will and a stout heart, the 16-year-old Mahak Jain tamed top seed Zeel Desai 7-5, 6-3 for the women’s title in the Fenesta National tennis championship at the DLTA Complex here on Saturday.

On a bright day, when Dalwinder Singh put on a dynamic display in outplaying top seed Suraj Prabodh for the men’s title, it was Mahak who stole everyone’s heart with her compact game.

“I was confident,” said Mahak, who is coached by Sajid Lodi in Indore. On the same courts, Mahak had beaten the 18-year-old Zeel early this year in an ITF junior final. Thereafter, the two had met in Gwalior and Kuala Lumpur, with Zeel winning both times in straight sets.

Having lost two women’s ITF finals after beating a string of good players, Mahak looked to have gathered some experience, as she tackled the final with a crisp performance. Zeel was a bit erratic and lacked the belief, desire and tenacity.

Mahak served and stroked with diligence and got into the driver’s seat by winning the first set, even though she could not press home the advantage while leading 5-3.

In the second set also, Mahak barged ahead with a break in the seventh game, and Zeel ended her challenge by dropping serve in the ninth game with a double fault.

In the men’s final, Dalwinder Singh was razor sharp with his big game and won repeated rounds of applause. Suraj Prabodh, who also trains with the same coach from Serbia, Milos Pavlovic, at the Harvest Academy in Jassowal, counter punched nicely, but conceded that he lacked the rhythm for a better fight.

The champions received Rs. 300,000 while the runners-up were presented Rs. 200,000.

The tall and strong Sacchitt Sharma, coached ably by Mohammed Arif Khan, demonstrated his fire power by beating Dhruv Sunish for the boys title. He had won the national junior title in Chennai as well, which showed his preparedness to step it up into the men’s world, having already made his mark with the UK under-14 title in Wimbledon.

Vaidehi Chaudhari beat top seed Akanksha Bhan, her doubles partner and a fellow trainee from Ahmedabad, with a string of fluent strokes, for the girls title. Both train under coach Jignesh Raval and have the game to reach far.

Dipa Karmakar, the ace gymnast who grabbed national attention by placing fourth in the Rio Olympics was the chief guest and presented the prizes, along with the Joint Managing Director of DCM Shriram Group, Ajit Shriram.

“It was the first time I watched a tennis match. It felt very good. Keep working hard,” said Dipa.

The president of the All India Tennis Association (AITA), Praveen Mahajan, addressed the players and said that sports taught character and life. She closed with the quote of Arthur Ashe, “You are playing

yourself, your own highest standards, and when you reach your limits, that is real joy.”

The results (finals): Men: Dalwinder Singh bt Suraj Prabodh 6-3, 6-4.Women: Mahak Jain bt Zeel Desai 7-5, 6-3.Boys: Sacchitt Sharma bt Dhruv Sunish 6-3, 6-4.Girls: Vaidehi Chaudhari bt Akanksha Bhan 6-3, 6-0.

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