V.M. Sandeep and Sruthi Pandithurian claimed the top prizes in the U-14 category of the 2016 HCL Inter-School Tennis Challenge on the final day of the tournament here at the Sri Ramachandra University tennis courts in Chennai.
Sandeep, the top seed in the Boys U-14 singles, lived up to his top billing to emerge champion, besting second seed K. Anirudh 6-3 6-2 in the final. Sandeep got off to a sloppy start, getting broken in the first game of the match. He found his rhythm soon though and started forcing the issue to come back into the match. He soon took the first set despite Anirudh not playing badly.
The second set was a similar affair with Anirudh giving it his all, but he was unable to find a way past his opponent. Sandeep is the fourth ranked junior nationally in the Boys U-14 and his quality clearly shone through despite Anirudh contesting right through to the end.
For Sruthi, it was a much easier affair as she easily beat Deepa Lakshmi Vanaraja in just 45 minutes. The top seed didn't show any weaknesses and overwhelmed her opponent completely.
Tharakesh and Tentu claim U-12 titles
Top seed Tharakesh Ashokar claimed the winner's trophy in the Boys U-12 after overcoming the challenge of fourth seed SA Samuel Jones, winning 6-4 7-5. In the first set, Tharakesh secured the early break and was poised to serve for the set, but Samuel broke back to get the set back on serve. However, Tharakesh broke for a second time to take the set.
The second set turned out to be an up and down affair, with the first six games seeing a break of serve. Samuel could not capitalise despite breaking Tharakesh's serve three times. The players started holding serve afterwards and it looked to be heading to a tiebreaker. Tharakesh secured the crucial break though to win the second 7-5 and take the title.
In the Girls U-12 category, top seed Tentu Shrichandrakala beat third seed Ananya S.R. 6-2 6-1 to claim the title. Tentu was too strong for her opponent, overwhelming her with her good serve and strokes.
St. Michael's claim team title
Earlier in the morning, before his singles final, Sandeep helped his school to victory in the Boys U-14 team event as St Michaels Academy beat DAV Senior Secondary School 2-1.
Sundar Mahalingam, Chief Strategy Officer, HCL presided over the prize distribution ceremony along with former Indian women's number one Rushmi Chakravarthy, who was the Chief Guest for the prize distribution ceremony. Gaurav Natekar, former India Davis Cup player and CEO, Mahesh Bhupathi Tennis Academies, was also present.
Both the winners and runners-up received a complete tennis kit.
This year’s tournament has seen young boys and girls from around 50 schools participating, including prominent ones such as St. Michaels, Sishya, Velammal, Good Shepherd, Padma Seshadri and Kendriya Vidyalaya. The winners of the Delhi tournament, Suyash Gupta (Boys) and Smriti Singh (Girls) were sent to the SchuttlerWaske Tennis University, Frankfurt, Germany for a one-week, all-expense paid training program. The winners of the Chennai tournament will also get an opportunity to go for a similar training program with an international academy.