I am looking forward to playing with Saina and Sindhu, says Ashmitha Chaliha

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I am looking forward to playing with Saina and Sindhu, says Ashmitha Chaliha

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SportsCafe Desk

06/26/2018

Ashmitha Chaliha, who won the All India Senior Ranking Tournament, is keen to play with Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu if she makes it in Asian Games contingent. Coach Suranjan Bhabora wants Ashmitha to prove her credentials at the senior level and wants to work on her mental and physical strength.

The All India Senior Ranking Tournament, held in Hyderabad, concluded on Sunday when 18 year old teen Ashmitha Chaliha from Assam defeated 3rd seeded Sai Uttejitha Rao in the finals. She had also managed to reach the semi finals of the ranking tournament last week in Bangalore. The results in both tournaments have put her in a position where she might be considered to be a part of India’s badminton contingent at the upcoming Asian Games.

“It feels amazing. [If I’m picked] it will be the first time I’ll be in the Indian team for a senior tournament. I have played Asian and world juniors before, but now I’m looking forward to playing with Saina [Nehwal] and [PV] Sindhu.” 

The southpaw trains at the Assam Badminton Academy under Indonesian coach Edwin Iriawan and India’s Suranjan Bhobora. She had bagged gold medals in the individual and mixed-team events at the inaugural South Asia Regional Badminton Tournament in Guwahati in 2017. However, she could not finish the season off on winning note as she lost in quarterfinal in Junior National Championship.

From the start of the 2018 campaign, she started with the senior category at the national level. She played in four senior ranking tournaments but could only manage a semi-final appearance was the best result she produced before Sunday. In all the four ranking tournaments she lost to Sai Uttejitha Rao and Vaishnavi Bhale, players who were ranked higher than her. There was a pattern in her defeats as she won first game before losing the match by conceding the other two games.

"It was like a mental block. She would win the first game but then frustratingly start committing errors and lose confidence as the match progressed," said her coach Bhobora. “I told her that if she could only play during tournaments like how she does during training, she will win everything. She used to get tense during matches and wasn’t mentally tough.” 

In the finals, Ashmitha again won first game before losing the second. However, this time around she backed her natural attacking game against Uttejitha and decided not to engage in long rallies.

“I knew that if I play rallies I may lose so I played more downward and attacking strokes,” she said.

The decision proved vital as she won her first senior national title by winning the match  21-16, 14-21, 21-15. Two things set her apart from other Indian women singles player, one being a lefty shuttler-one of the very few at the top level. The other being her mentality to attack and finish off points rather than go for rallies.

“I can play rallies depending on the opponent but I prefer attacking more,” said Ashmita on her game. 

Coach Bhabhora was full praise for his student and is hopeful that winning the ranking tournament is her start at senior level.

“She is a very talented girl and has already performed at the junior level.The only thing left is to prove herself at the senior level, which she has now started doing. It’s a long time since an Assam player has won the all-India title, especially in singles. Hopefully, this is a start.” he said

The coach added they need to work on her mental and physical strength in order to help her compete at the senior international level.

 “We are still working on her mental and physical strength, and her stamina. At the senior level, she has to beat all kinds of players, so she has to become more physically fit and reduce her errors.” he said.

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