It is not a secret anymore that 17-year-old Satwiksairaj Rankireddy is one of India’s most promising shuttlers. The teenager had a dream debut in the erstwhile Superseries circuit in 2017 when he and Chirag Shetty went on to reach a couple of men’s doubles quarter-finals in Seoul and in Paris.
The kind of maturity and composure that the youngster has already shown belies his age.
On Sunday, after he teamed up with the highly experienced Pia Zebadiah in mixed doubles to bring the Hyderabad Hunters their maiden Premier Badminton League (PBL) title, he had a new admirer. It is none other than the reigning Olympic champion Carolina Marin.
The former World No. 1, who was the captain of the Hunters, heaped lavish praise on her younger teammate in the post-match press conference. Rankireddy and Zebadiah erased the Bengaluru Blasters’ early lead in the second game of the mixed doubles clash to register a 15-11, 15-12 win that sealed the Hunters’ narrow 4-3 win over their southern neighbours.
Marin was impressed with how the Indian teen controlled the overwhelming pressure of playing and delivering the win in front of Hyderabad’s roaring fans at the Gachibowli Stadium.
“Satwik is the find of the Hyderabad Hunters because he was a little bit nervous in the semi-finals but today wow! he did really good,” gushed the Spaniard.
“He really had good control over the pressure. He did so many good things in the strategy. I just have to congratulate every teammate of my team,” added the two-time world champion.
The southpaw, who calls India her ‘second home’, has been swearing her allegiance to the Hyderabad Hunters team for two seasons in a row. Because of lack of sparring partners back home in Spain, the 24-year-old loves coming back to the PBL with her coaching team for the league offers training sessions and matches with elite shuttlers.
Her joy thus knew no bounds after the team that she has been loyal to, was crowned the champion.
“It was amazing to win the PBL for the first time. It is an amazing feeling to be part of the Hyderabad Hunters team. Wow! I cannot say what I feel inside,” an elated Marin told.
The last time the Hyderabad Hunters and the Bengaluru Blasters had locked horns at the PBL 2018, Hyderabad ran away with a thunderous 6-(-1) win. But the Hunters were prepared for a much tougher battle this time as this was the final.
There was pressure on everyone to perform and Marin is very happy to see that it was her team that rose to the occasion and excelled under pressure.
“We expected to play some tough matches because of course it was a final. Everyone had a little bit of pressure because everyone wanted to win like me. But finally we could finish in a good way, so we are really happy,” signed off the reigning European champion.