National Junior U-18 Clay Court Tennis Championship: Underarm serve, upsets, bad light and the drama of qualifying

The qualifying round of the 29th National Junior U-18 Clay Court Tennis Championship was held in Chennai on August 13 and 14.

REPRESENTATIVE IMAGE: The qualifying round of the 29th National Junior U-18 Clay Court Tennis Championship was held in Chennai on August 13 and 14.

REPRESENTATIVE IMAGE: The qualifying round of the 29th National Junior U-18 Clay Court Tennis Championship was held in Chennai on August 13 and 14. | Photo Credit:

The qualifying round of the 29th National Junior U-18 Clay Court Tennis Championship was held in Chennai on August 13 and 14.

Eight boys and six girls progressed to the main draw of the 29th National Junior U-18 Clay Court Tennis Championship in Chennai on Sunday.

Two final-round qualifying fixtures in girls’ singles were stopped midway due to poor visibility and will now be completed when the main draw action starts on Monday. The finals are scheduled for August 20.

Highlights of National Junior U-18 Clay Court Tennis Championship

Three rounds of qualifying spread over the weekend, comprising 112 matches including three walkovers and one retirement, were organised by the Tamil Nadu Tennis Association (TNTA) at the SDAT Stadium in Egmore, Cosmopolitan Club in Anna Salai and the Nungambakkam Tennis Club.

Here are the highlights of the qualifying round (and all that happened off-court):-

Player-cum-linesman

As is the norm at the junior level, the qualifying round saw players also performing the duty of linesmen. In the ‘best of 17 games’ format, followed for the first two rounds, close calls mattered. The matches, therefore, were not without disputes and the first-round boys’ singles qualifier between Arnav Avinash Kokane and Pratyush Loganathan had the match official, in-charge of keeping the score, stepping onto the court to settle the close calls frequently.

Top male seeds fall

None of the top three seeds in boys’ singles could reach the main draw. While second-seeded Svarmanyu Singh lost 6-9 to fellow Maharashtra player Pradyumna Singh Tomar in the first round, local boy Shyam Sundar Shri Sailesh sent top seed Chandan Shivaraj of Karnataka packing with a 9-2 scoreline in second round. Pranav Mishra, third seed from Uttar Pradesh, stumbled at the final hurdle, losing 2-6, 2-6 to Punjab’s Navya Verma.

Bad light affects play

Both days of qualifying were affected due to bad light. On day one, the second-round girls’ singles match between top seed Asmi Nihar Adkar and Karnataka’s Siri Manjunath Patil was at 8-2 in Adkar’s favour on Court No. 2 in Egmore when officials decided to stop the play. Siri and her mother told a TNTA official that they had requested for the play to be stopped at 5-2 but no action was taken. However, the TNTA official dismissed the complaint mentioning the rule that the request could be made only when the total scoreline made an even number - i.e. either 5-3 or 6-2.

The second day ended in similar fashion as the final two qualifying round matches in girls’ singles - Shrijana M Thapa vs Anushka Pavani Garimella and Kkaira S Chetnani vs Kaajal Ramisetty - could not be completed.

Unfairly high stringing charges

“They are charging Rs 400 per racquet for stringing which is four times what is the usual amount,” complained one parent. One of the top seeds in boys’ singles qualifying reiterated the same. The tournament fact-sheet, uploaded on the AITA website, has simply mentioned ‘-’ in the column for stringing charges.

Branded racquets, underarm serves

A majority of the players were seen playing with racquets of top-quality brands such as Babolat, Head and Wilson. Not only was the equipment stylish but the tactical shrewdness too spoke of the modern day game’s influence on the youngsters. Karnataka’s R Sadeeshkumar, fourth seed, was cruising through his final-round fixture against Telangana’s Sathyajit Sunil Nair when he decided to go for the underarm serve. However, the move did not work as Nair read it well and hit a cracking forehand pass to win the point. 

Players who have qualified for the main draw:
Boys - Shyam Sundarr Shri Sailesh (TN), Pradyumna Singh Tomar (MH), Navya Verma (PB), Rishi Vandhan Sadeeshkumar (KA), Viswasenan Navaneethan (TN), Adhirit Awal (TN), Keerthivassan Suresh (TN), Dhiraj Reddy V (TS) Girls - Asmi Nihar Adkar (MH), Anya Jacob (MH), Ananya S R (TN), M Rajeshwaran Revathi (TN), Abinaya Caitlyn Sweeton (TN), Rishitha Basireddy (TS), Shrijana M Thapa (KL)/Anushka Pavani Garimella (KA), Kkaira S Chetnani (MH)/Kaajal Ramisetty (KA)
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