Riya Habbu, Rohan Thool emerge champions of Maharashtra Junior badminton

NAGPUR: Both singles ends of the Maharashtra Junior State Badminton Championship It was an extension of the daily practice session.

The finalist girls Riya Habbu & Tara Shah train together in the Badminton Academy Nikhil Kanetkar in Pune while Rohan Thool & Rahoul Kanne they were members of the Thane Academy .

Since they were part of the same academy, Riya-Tara & Rohan-Rahoul matches happen almost on daily basis at their respective centres. But at the Subhedar Hall on Sunday, it was a completely different scenario. They were gunning for the prestigious state junior title & no one was willing to give an inch to each other.

In the end, Riya & Rohan emerged girls & boys singles champions, respectively but after overcoming a tough fight from their respective fellow academy trainees.

Riya clearly displayed a better performance to edge past Tara 21-10, 21-18 in 32 minutes. In a battle between two sub-junior players, Riya came up with a brilliant show to outsmart her younger rival. The 15-year-old Riya got off to a flying start & maintained her lead throughout to race to a 21-10 victory in the first game.

Tara, who is just 14-year-old, put up a spirited show in the second game. She was matching Riya stroke for stroke & adding a much needed spice in the summit clash. Although, Riya was leading marginally, Tara certainly threatened to take the match into the decider.

With Tara retrieving everything which came her way, Riya then went for the kill. She aimed for the extreme corners & also unleashed several down the line smashes to catch Tara completely unawares.

Riya's landing of shuttles at the perfect areas also annoyed Tara & frustration started to creep in even though she was not willing to throw in the towel.

Riya was jubilant after her first junior state crown, but praised her opponent for her tough fight.

I am very happy with my performance. It was a close match. She really played well, particularly in the second game. I was taking all the shuttles, so I used the corners often to win the points. It was not planned in advance. for the successes on the line, but I had to use that gun often to mark the winners, said Riya, a student at Standard X.

It was Riya's second victory over Tara in the season. In the Pune District Championship, both played twice against each other. While Riya won the U-17 title, Tara claimed the U-19 crown.

The boys singles final also went on the similar lines. Top seed Rahoul Kanne tried his best but could not get the better of Rohan Thool , who won 21-18, 21-19 in exactly half an hour. After upsetting another Thane Academy fellow trainee & second seed Suyog Lokhande in the semis, the confidence was quite high for Rohan.

He started on a shaky note as Rahoul established a big nine-point (16-7) lead in the first game. Rohan then staged a fanstasic recovery to first reduce the deficit & then went on to grab the opener 21-18.

Also in the second game, Rahoul was ahead at the beginning, but could not maintain his advantage as Rohan completed the game in straight games with a 21-19 verdict in the second.

The boys doubles final also saw the top seeds finishing second best. Second seeds Harshal Jadhav & Yash Shah of Pune stunned top seeds Shantanu Pawar (Nashik) & Vedant Kale (Thane) 21-17, 14-21, 21-17 in 46 minutes.

MBA president & BAI vice-president Arun Lakhani was the chief guest & distributed the prizes. NDBA president Kunda Vijaykar, NDBA secretary Mangesh Kashikar, Kunjbihari Agarwal, Nafeesa, Isa Vali, Bhavana Agrey, Anant Apte, Bhavesh Deshmukh, Gurdeep Arora, Madhav Soman & Sneha Faizpurkar were present on the occasion. Final results)

Single guys : Rohan Thool beat 1- Rahoul Kanne 21-18, 21-19.

Single girls : Riya Habbu beat Tara Shah 21-10, 21-18.

Double guys : 2-Harshal Jadhav-Yash Shah defeated 1-Shantanu Pawar-Vedant Kale 21-17, 14-21, 21-17.