Aakarshi Kashyap leads the Indian challenge at Badminton Asia U17 & U15 Junior Championships
India’s best junior shuttlers in the under-15 and under-17 categories will be aiming for multiple medals when the Badminton Asia U-17 & U-15 Junior Championships will get under way at Yangon, Myanmar on Wednesday. Junior World No. 9 women’s singles player Aakarshi Kashyap will be India’s biggest star at this continental championships and also the brightest bet for a medal.
The U-17 and U-19 national champion is seeded second in the women’s singles U-17 section and does not face any seeded player until the quarter-finals. The Chhattisgarh girl, all of 16 years, has been touted as one of India’s most promising shuttlers for some time. She proved her credentials by reaching the quarter-finals of the Asia Junior Championships this year where she bowed out to the fourth seed and eventual champion Han Yue.
Kashyap won a singles bronze in the U-17 section at last year’s Badminton Asia U17 & U15 Junior Championships and will be looking to go further this time.
16-year-old Ritika Thaker is the only other seeded player in the same category. Seeded fourth, Thaker is slated to meet her compatriot Samiya Imad Farooqui in the quarter-finals.
Triple duty for Gayatri Gopichand
Farooqui and Pullela Gopichand’s daughter, Gayatri Gopichand captured a bronze in the U-15 girls’ doubles section. This time the pair is looking to repeat their success in the U-17 doubles category and is seeded fourth.
Apart from the above-mentioned doubles, the 14-year-old Gopichand will also be in action in singles in both the U-15 and U-17 sections. In U-17, she is on course for a second round meeting with the eighth seed Atitaya Povanon of Thailand.
In U-15, Gopichand has a tough task as she has a potential second round face-off with the top seed Rasila Mahajan of Nepal.
Besides Gopichand, the other Indian players to watch out for in the U-15 women’s singles section are the third seeded Farooqui and the seventh seeded Kavipriya Selvam.
In U-15 men’s singles, Varun Kapur is seeded second while Vikas Yadav is seeded fourth.
Rawat and Meiraba remain India’s hopes in U-17
India has no seeded player in the U-17 men’s singles draw where the current India No. 1 Dhruv Rawat and the India No. 2 Maisnam Meiraba remain the country’s biggest hopes for a medal. The latter, who belongs to Manipur, especially has been making waves of late. The 14-year-old clinched a bronze in his first senior international event -- the YONEX-SHERA-ROZA-BTY International Championships 2017 held in Bangkok in April.
Rawat can come across the sixth seed Yu Sheng Po in the third round while Meiraba can meet the third seed Ko Shing Hei in the same round.