The girls’ doubles final at the 29th National Junior under-18 clay court Tennis Championship on Friday ended with a sensational 54-shot rally. To put things in perspective, the championship-winning points at the three women’s doubles Grand Slam finals this year had a combined total of 25 shots.
Second seeds Madhurima Sawant and Ruma Gaikaiwari put behind the defeats in the semifinals of their respective singles from earlier in the day to beat Adkar sisters, Vaishnavi and Asmi, 6-1, 1-6, [10-8] in an all-Maharashtrian summit clash at the SDAT Stadium, Egmore.
The Madhurima-Ruma pair got off to a flying start and took a 5-0 lead in the opening set on Court 2. At the same time, local favourites Kavin Karthik and Rakshak Tarun were 4-0 ahead in the boys’ doubles final against the top-seeded Madhya Pradesh-Haryana duo of Denim Yadav and Vansh Nandal on Court 1, the adjacent court.
Highlights of National Junior U-18 Clay Court Tennis Championship
- Day 6: Kriish Tyagi, Vaishnavi Adkar defeat top seeds to win singles titles
- Day 5: Madhurima-Ruma pair wins girls doubles title; Denim-Vansh champion in boys doubles
- Day 5: Kriish Tyagi to face Denim Yadav in singles final
- Day 4: Sisters Asmi, Vaishnavi storm into doubles final
- Day 3: Packed schedule on day three tests youngsters
- Day 2: Exit scare for fifth seed Madhurima; top seeds Suhitha, Vaishnavi through to pre-quarters
- Day 1: Daksh Prasad digs deep to reach second round
- Underarm serve, upsets, bad light and the drama of qualifying
In the flick of a switch, the momentum shifted in both finals. The Tamil Nadu pair started missing first serves and easy volleys allowing Denim and Vansh to reel off six games in a row to take the first set. Madhurima and Ruma did manage to seal the opening set 6-1. But Vaishnavi and Asmi, playing their first tournament as a doubles pair, quickly returned the favour by clinching the second set with the same scoreline.
The title-winning pair in girls’ doubles was to be decided by a 10-point match tiebreak. The more experienced pair of Madhurima and Ruma took an early lead of 4-2 and maintained the two-point gap at 7-5 going into the second change of ends. Adkar sisters levelled things up at 7-7, but a double fault from Asmi meant that the second seeds were just two points away from victory.
Simultaneously, the boys’ doubles final was heading towards its conclusion, albeit a less dramatic one. Kavin and Rakshak had broken their opponents’ serve to reduce the second set deficit to 3-5.
With two championship points on offer at 9-7, Ruma hit a cross-court forehand into the net. What started with Vaishnavi’s serve at 9-8 was a brutal cross-court rally between Madhurima and her that was briefly interrupted with a backhand volley (42nd shot) by Ruma. Vaishnavi eventually went for a backhand cross-court slice. Ruma anticipated the shot in time and replied with a backhand cross-court slice of her own. Vaishnavi tried to find the gap between her opponents with a powerful backhand. But it backfired as the ball landed perfectly on Ruma’s racquet for a glorious forehand volley which went between Asmi and Vaishnavi and landed well inside the baseline.
Moments later, on Court 1, Vansh answered Rakshak’s serve with a backhand return hitting Kavin in the chest, taking the second set 6-3 and bringing the boys’ doubles final to a close.
For Denim and Ruma, the victory in doubles was special in their own ways.
Ruma, earlier, had lost 0-6, 1-6 to Vaishnavi in the singles semifinal. After her win in doubles, she said, “It was a really great match and those two were very tough opponents. I mostly lose against Vaishnavi. So, it was a great moment for me to win against her.”
Denim has the chance to complete the double at the event as he faces Kriish Tyagi in the singles final on Saturday. “There is no pressure. I just feel grateful to have the opportunity to get the double crown,” said the top seed from Madhya Pradesh.
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