Malvika Bansod and Ritika Thaker emerge as champions in the badminton tournament All India Junior Ranking

NAGPUR: Raising the bar when it matters most is the hallmark of Malvika Bansod & Ritika Thaker . The city's teenage hauliers once again proved that they were perhaps the best in the business in their categories by triumphing in the Yonex-Sunrise All India Junior ranking (U-19) Badminton tournament that concluded on Sunday at the Green Field stadium in Thiruvananthapuram.

While Malvika reigned in the U-19 female singles, Ritika excelled in the doubles. The doubles specialist not only won the mixed doubles crown with his Manipur partner Dingku Sing Konthoujam, but also finished third in the doubles category with Simran Singhi from Mumbai.

The second favorite, Malvika, was on a mission in the tournament. The burly left-hander overcame the disappointment of the Chennai tournament last week, where he had to retire in the quarterfinals against Aashi Rawat of Delhi due to dehydration, with an outstanding performance in Thiruvananthapuram.

Malvika reduced the final to a simple formality, as she beat the third favorite Unnati Bisht 21-7, 21-9 in just 32 minutes.

From the start to finish, Malvika dominated with her flawless performance. The scores of 7 & 9 underlined the fact that Malvika did not allow her rival to make a comeback. It was her seventh consecutive victory against Unnati in the last few years on the domestic circuit.

The complete dominance of Malvika, which represents the Airport Authority of India, can be assessed by the fact that she did not lose a single game on her way to triumph.

The victorious Malvika was elated after her win & is hopeful of berth in the Indian team for the forthcoming Asian Junior Championship to be held in China.

"I was really disappointed with the result at Chennai. Extreme heat & humid weather forced me to concede my match. I wanted to make a strong comeback & I am glad I did it. A two-week training at Raipur under the guidance of Sanjay Mishra sir really helped me,” Malvika, 17, told TOI on Sunday.

Ritika Thaker had a Super Sunday too. The 18-year-old won her second mixed doubles title in as many weeks. Since this was a selection tournament she had to fight for the third place in the girls doubles after losing narrowly in the semis on Saturday.

In the first match of the day against Trisha Hedge (Karnataka) & Arya Shetty (Maharashtra), Ritika & Simran wrapped up the first game 21-15. The new pair of Trisha & Arya fought back in the second game & won 21-18. In the decider, Ritika & Simran raised their game & pocketed it 21-17 to claim the bronze medal after an hour & four minutes battle.

Within an hour, Ritika was on the court again for the mixed doubles summit showdown with Dingku Sing where they faced second seeds Edwin Joy (Kerala) & Shruti Mishra (Uttar Pradesh).

Fifth seeds Ritika & Dingku rallied back in splendid fashion to shatter the hopes of their opponents. Ritika & Dingku lost the first game 16-21 but got their act together & started playing aggressive badminton. They won the next two games 21-12 & 21-15 to claim the title. This match lasted one hour & eight mins.

Speaking from Thiruvananthapuram, Ritika said she was satisfied with her performance, especially today when she won both her matches. She said they had certain plans in place for the matches & executed them well in both the events. She said she was very happy with her endurance & fitness as both the matches went for over an hour & it was difficult to keep up due to the weather here.

She was happy she could perform & give desired results. She thanked her parents for their support & coaches Robin sir & Ajay sir for their untiring efforts , NDBA & MBA, Hislop college for the continued support. She also said as this was the selection tournament this would brighten her chances to get into the Indian team for the Asian Badminton Championships.

Ritika is a student of Hislop College & trains under Ajay Dayal at Ajay Dayal Badminton Academy at YMCA & under Robin Simon.

Results of Nagpur

U-19 girls singles (final): 2- Malvika Bansod bt 3-Unnati Bisht 21-7, 21-9.

U-19 mixed doubles (final): 5-Dingku Sing Konthoujam- Ritika Thaker bt 2-Edwin Joy-Shruti Mishra 16-21, 21-12, 21-15.

U-19 girls doubles (third place match): 6- Ritika Thaker -Simran Singhi bt 8-Trisha Hegde-Arya Shetty 21-15, 18-21, 21-17.

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