Air India

 

Sixteen-year-old Sindhu has made giant strides in a short time and many feel that she will become the next Saina Nehwal.

Pusarla Venkata Sindhu is the next best thing to happen to Indian badminton after Saina Nehwal. The 16-year old, touching 5'11" has made giant strides in her chosen sport.

Sporting family

Hailing from a family of sportspersons - her parents are ace volleyball players and older sister Divya is a proficient netball star, who quit the game to concentrate on her career (House Surgency) now—Sindhu has the right attitude and a level head. “I am fortunate to get the best of facilities at the Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad —be it training, coaching or nourishment. And that is every aspiring sportsperson's dream, atleast in the initial years,” she says. Sindhu made her maiden National final a memorable one, winning in straight games over second seed Neha Pandit of Airport Authority of India (AAI). “Barring the quarterfinal match against top seeded P.C. Thulasi of Kerala, I had it easy. Thulasi being my training partner, it was only expected. She knows my game and I know hers. In that too I was leading comfortably at 19-16 in the first game before two wrong judgements and a simple return which I netted cost me the first game. The next two were relatively comfortable,” Sindhu says. Sindhu, who was ranked ninth at the 76th Nationals in Bengaluru, went on to beat two other higher seeds Aditi Mutatkar of PSPB, the fourth seed in the semifinals, and Neha Pandit the second seed in the final, for the title.

“This is my third Senior Nationals- having lost to Trupti Murgunde at the pre- quarterfinal stage in 2009 and Arundhati Pantawane in the last edition in the quarterfinals, so this is a welcome progression. Moreover I have won all the age group Nationals as well. Under-10 in 2005 at Kochi, Under-13 in 2008 at Dehra Dhun, Under-16 at Hyderabad in 2010 and the Under-19 at Yanam last year in the singles. And besides in the under-13 and under-16 Nationals partnering K. Maneesha of Andhra Pradesh, I won the girls doubles title as well. Only in the under 19 section did we finish as runner-up,” Sindhu cheekily says.

Hard work

Employed through the sports quota with the PSPB, the top junior badminton star who trains about six to seven hours every day from Monday to Saturday idolises her coach - Pullela Gopichand. “His achievements are known to every one associated with the game. How many other All England champions do we have other than Prakash Sir and Gopi Sir. I like the way he prepares for the games and the way he plays,” Sindhu says.

Wonderful run

Sindhu who won four titles last year — Maldives Open, Indonesian Open, Swiss Open and the Mumbai GP – has had a wonderful run capping the season with the Senior National women's title as well. Her secret she says is her “hard work” “I play and train with Saina at the Academy but have not played her yet in any tournament," Sindhu says. About her academics, she says— “Well there is not much time with the books and my mother helps me out a great deal with my studies and then I go to the tuitions too. Despite the months of tour and training session, I managed above 70 per cent last year and my parents are happy about it.”

About the Nationals format and seedings, Sindhu says— “It does not matter who I play at what stage. If you want to be the best, you have to play and win against all. Because of my International commitments there was no chance to play many domestic tournaments and so my seedings too was low but the satisfaction is that I played well throughout and beat higher ranked players comfortably, except for Thulasi. I would like to play more national ranking events but then the International rankings too are important. May be in three years, I will become the World No 1.” Ranked 30 in the world, Sindhu is sharing a nation's hopes and hopefully she will live up to her dreams.

 
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