Big chance for crop of young players: Pullela Gopichand
New Delhi, July 31 (IANS) Chief national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand has said the new crop of Indian players was coming along well and that they have a great opportunity to showcase their promise at the World Championships, starting Monday in Guangzhou.
“I think the younger crop is coming along well and it is a matter of time before they start producing good results. I am particularly sure of our doubles combinations making impact at the international level,” the 39-year-old former All-England champion told IANS.
Pranaav Jerry Chopra, Akshay Dewalkar, Tarun Kona, Arun Vishnu, Aparna Balan, Nelakurthi Siki Reddy, Ashwini Ponnappa and Pradnya Gadre will form the doubles teams at the Worlds.
India’s recent performances in doubles have noticeably gone down while in the singles events it has been on the rise with eight shuttlers in the top 50 of the men’s singles rankings.
“I think Pradnya and Ashwini have started to do well in the women’s doubles. They are already in the top 30 (World No.27) and if you look at the results, they are encouraging. I expect them to do even better in the foreseeable future,” the Hyderabadi said.
India’s last notable achievement in the doubles was when Ashwini, partnering Jwala Gutta, won the bronze medal at the World Championships in London two years ago. But the two split after the London Olympics last summer when Jwala took a long break and asked Ashwini to find a new partner. Ashwini paired up with Pradnya Gadre and by the time Jwala returned to the court, the two had formed a good combination.
Talking of the chances at the World Championships, Gopichand said the players prepared well and could be expected to do reasonably well.
“I think overall our preparation has been good and the players have worked hard. Luckily, they had some time to train after the last series of tournaments and that was crucial,” Gopichand said.
India has named a 12-member contingent with three seeded players. The nation’s eyes will be on third seed Saina Nehwal along with 10th seed P.V. Sindhu in the women’s singles while in the men’s action 13th seed Parupalli Kashyap and Mumbai’s Ajay Jayaram will be India’s leading players.
Gopichand is pinning his hopes on Saina finishing among the medal winners.
“Saina has a good chance of returning with a medal as she has recovered from her niggles and prepared well for the tournament,” the coach said.
Saina and Sindhu were also in the news recently for skipping tournaments because of injuries. However, the former All England Champion said “everyone is okay”.