All eyes on Gayatri Gopichand as Junior Badminton Nationals begin in Chennai on Tuesday

Chennai, May 20: Over 1,000 young shuttlers of India will be vying for breakthrough victories as the Microplex Global and Yonex Sunrise All-India Junior Ranking Badminton Tournament gets underway here on Tuesday.

All eyes will be on the Under-19 Girls’ Singles’ top seed Pullela Gayatri Gopichand, daughter of India coach Gopichand, who seems all set to lead the country’s next generation of players towards greater and success.

The 16-year-old Hyderabadi, who has shown rare consistency and amazing temperament at this level, will however keep her sharp eye on Chattisgarh’s Aakarshi Kashyap. Both are highly talented, were part of the Asian Games contingent and have also traded wins in the past. 

But will be extra keen to pocket this one up as the tournament doubles up a selection ticket for the Junior Asian Badminton Championship in China two months later.

Madhya Pradesh’s Priyanshu Rajawat will play a similar starring role in the Under-19 Boys’ Singles. The top seed here too has rapidly risen up the ranks and will hope to reinforce his reputation as a giant-killer. Manipur’s Maisnam Meiraba, though, stands in his way as a valiant contender.

Sankar Muthusamy, a Chennai lad, is a bronze medalist in last year’s ABC, will also hope to repeat or better that performance. 

Sai Charan Koya, Sathish Kumar K and Aakash Yadav will enter the fray as seeds in the Boys’ Singles and hope to pull off a few upsets over the next six days.

In the Girls’ Singles, Aakarshi Kashyap, Malvika Bansod and Unnati Bisht will also be key protagonists in this tournament.

“We are delighted to host this prestigious tournament,” Mr Arunachalam, the secretary of the organisers Tamil Nadu Badminton Association, said. “It will be one of the best organised badminton tournaments in the country and I hope fans come to the stadium to watch India’s top players in action,” he added.

Thirty-two boys and girls have been given direct entries into the main draw while eight each in the three doubles categories: Boys, Girls and Mixed.

Manjit Singh Khwairakpam & Dingku Singh Konthoujam are the top seeds in the Boys Doubles while Treesa Jolly and Varshini VS in the Girls and Navaneeth Bokka and Sahithi Bandi in Mixed get the pride of place.

Over 500 boys and 220 girls from different parts of the country will go through the qualifying rounds in the hope of making it to the main draw and then eke out a few victories.

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