All eyes will be on top-seed Gayatri Gopichand as the 16 year-old aims to qualify directly for the Junior Asian Badminton Championship to be held in China. In the boys singles category, Priyanshu Rajawat is the favourite to lift the title although he has some stern challengers to compete with.
The All-India National-ranking U-19 tournament’s main draw will soon commence at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in New Delhi. All the five categories will be played with the winner earning a direct qualification into the Asian Junior Championships to be held in Suzhou from July 20 to 28.
In the words of the secretary of the Tamil Nadu Badminton Association, “it will be one of the best-organised tournaments in the country and I hope fans come to the stadium to watch India’s top players in action.”
With three other national-level tournaments having already concluded in Jaipur, Bangalore, and Vijayawada, the one in Delhi will be the fourth of it’s kind this season. Both Priyanshu and Gayatri ended the most recent of those in Jaipur as champions in the singles category.
The daughter of Pullela Gopichand, former Indian badminton player and the founder of the Gopichand Badminton Academy that has produced stalwarts such as P.V. Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, and Parupalli Kashyap, Gayatri was a part of the Asian Games squad that lost in the quarter finals. Also part of the squad was Aakarshi Kashyap, who will also be aiming for the trophy in Delhi to entering the tournament as the second seed.
Malvika Bansod and Unnati Bisht are the next two seeds and will be hoping to pull off an upset in order to be crowned the winner.
As for the boys, even though Maisnab Meraba of Manipur is the second seed, third seed Sankar Muthusamy seems to be Priyanshu’s toughest competition, having won the bronze medal last year and having gotten only better since then. Sai Charan Koya, Sathish Kumar K, and Aakash Yadav are the other three top seeds in contention for the title. 17-year old Youth Olympics silver medalist Lakshya Sen will be missing out on the tournament.
Manjit Singh Khwairakpam and Dingku Singh Konthoujam of Manipur are the top seeds in the boy's doubles, whereas V.S. Varshini of Tamil Nadu and Treesa Jolly of Kerala hold the top seed in the girl's doubles category.
Navaneeth Bokka and Sahithi Bandi of Telangana are in pole position for the mixed doubles category in the six-day affair.
While 500 boys and 220 girls will be fighting for qualification, which begins on Tuesday, 32 boys and girls have been given direct entry in the singles category, whereas 8 pairs have been afforded the same in the three doubles categories. The main draw matches will begin from 23rd May.
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