It may be pure coincidence that currently the No. 2 spot in the Badminton World Federation’s junior rankings is held by Indians in both boys' and girls' singles. The two rising stars are Varun Kapur and Samiya Imad Farooqui, whose brilliant exploits at such a young age give Indian badminton high hopes.
If they can continue their excellent performances in the senior category too, then Indian badminton fans can witness glorious days in the future.
The 18-year-old Samiya Imad Farooqui emerged as the Under-15 Asian Badminton Championship winner in 2017. The Hyderabad-based teenager has been one of the most consistent performers in the world junior circuit in the last couple of years.
After winning the title at the Bulgaria Junior International tournament in 2019, Samiya Imad Farooqui has stopped competing in the Under-19 girls group. She wants to concentrate on women’s singles and has so far got impressive results.
Samiya Imad Farooqui reached the semi-finals in Bangladesh and made it to the quarters at Nepal and Myanmar tournaments at the senior level in 2019. On the basis of those performances, she reached a career-best world ranking of 170 before slipping to her current position of 179 in women’s singles.
The talented young girl is hoping to replicate her consistency from the junior level in seniors. Samiya Imad Farooqui said:
“I want to maintain my consistency level from juniors to seniors. I have decided to play in women’s singles now. Except for the BWF World Junior Championship, I will play only in the senior international tournaments."
If badminton experts are to be believed, Samiya Imad Farooqui has the potential to carry the legacy of Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu. She has also set bigger goals for herself.
“I want to be the best in the world in women’s singles. My ultimate goal is to win a gold medal for India in the Olympic Games and win Super Series titles. I know it is easier said than done but I am ready for the challenge. I am prepared to work hard to realize my dreams."
Credit for my success goes to Gopi Sir and my parents: Samiya Imad Farooqui
Samiya Imad Farooqui joined Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy when she was just six years old. According to her, major credit for her success goes to Pullela Gopichand.
“I would like to attribute my success so far to Gopi Sir. He has always guided me and helped me to become a good player. My parents have also sacrificed a lot in my journey. I want to make them happy with my stellar performances."
Samiya is known to be a workhorse in the badminton circuit. She enjoys playing long rallies to frustrate her opponents and her deceptive strokes are an asset.
“My strength is my deceptive game. I trouble my opponents with my deceptive strokes. I am a rally player and I like to play long rallies. Those players who don't like to play long rallies and don't read my deceptive game, I always have a strong advantage over them."
Samiya believes she has a lot of scope for improvement in the mental aspect of the game. She is also building her strength to match her foreign opponents.
“I have to improve myself mentally so that I can handle the pressure well. I am also working on my fitness and strength. Competition at the world level is quite tough. If I can improve on these aspects, then I will be in a better position to handle the best of my opponents,” explained Samiya Imad Farooqui.
With both the Indian players – Varun Kapur (U-19 boys' singles) and Samiya Imad Farooqui (U-19 girls' singles) holding the second-best world ranking, chief junior national coach Sanjay Mishra is obviously a happy man. He said:
“It is certainly a proud moment for the entire country. As a junior national coach it is quite a satisfactory feeling for me. Both are talented players and they deserve their current status. The way they are performing I won’t be surprised if they perform well in the seniors too."
Praising Samiya Imad Farooqui, Sanjay Mishra described her as a complete player with a positive attitude on the court.
“Samiya has speed as she is a swift mover on the court. Her smashes are powerful. She is sharp in her strokes and can play equally well in the net. Since she has a better fitness level among her competitors, she stands out from the rest of the girls,” concluded Sanjay Mishra.