South Asian Games 2016: Indian tennis contingent completes clean sweep of medals
Ramkumar Ramanathan stunned Saketh Myneni while Ankita Raina blanked Prerna Bhambri in the singles finals
The twelfth edition of the South Asian Games, being hosted by the cities of Guwahati and Shillong this fortnight saw the Indians dominating in almost every event, overpowering their South Asian peers. It was no different in Tennis.
Each of the events in tennis had two Indians, who were the top seeds and all of whom eventually brushed aside opponents to reach the final round. The only top 100 player in the event was Pakistan’s Aisam Qureshi, who fell convincingly to Indian opponents in singles, doubles and mixed doubles.Therefore, Indian interest was mainly centered around the five gold medal matches. Here is a look at the winners.
Men’s Singles: Ramkumar Ramanathan
Playing the last tennis match of the tournament, India’s no.2 and no.4 ranked players battled it out for the gold medal on Thursday. Saketh Myneni could not bring out his form from the Australian Open, where he defeated the Chennai lad in straight sets and finally went on to lose the qualifying match.
Ramkumar was the better player for most of the match and managed a 7-5 6-2 win. It was an upset of sorts given that Myneni was the top seed.
It was heartening to see Ramkumar continue his form from the Chennai Open showing earlier this year. Myneni provided some resistance in the first set, but ultimately his error prone game in the second set quashed any hopes of a comeback.
Already having played their second match in two months, this could be a precursor to many more that could come in the year ahead, as the two will battle it out to move in the rankings.
Women’s Singles: Ankita Raina
Second seed Prerna Bhambri could find no answers to Ankita Raina’s game. The top seed rolled past Bhambri with a 6-1 6-0 win.
The two played a crucial role in India’s successful Fed Cup campaign where they prevented another alternating relegation to the second group with some spirited performances.
Of the two, Ankita stood out for her wins over world no.56 Nao Hibino, Nigina Abduraimova and Yaroslava Shvedova (Shvedova retired after Ankita bagged the first set).
Riding on the wave of confidence, Raina annihilated Bhambri to establish her supremacy as the top ranked Indian.
The results that they have had, especially Raina, donning the Indian colours in the past two weeks should definitely boost their confidence. It would be interesting to see how they fare at the $25,000 New Delhi ITF event next week.
Men’s Doubles: Ramkumar Ramanathan/ Vijay Sundar Prashanth
A day prior to his singles win, Ramkumar Ramanathan teamed up with statemate Vijay Sundar Prashanth to clinch the Men’s doubles title. It was another upset as they defeated Challenger tour regulars Divij Sharan and Sanam Singh 6-3 6-4 to clinch the gold medal.
En route to the finals, the second seeds also recorded a convincing straight sets win over Pakistan’s Aisam Qureshi and Aqueel Khan.
Women’s Doubles: Prarthana Thombare/ Sharrmadaa Baluu
Arguably the most successful players after Sania Mirza in doubles currently, though at a drastically lower level, Prarthana Thombare and Sharrmadaa Baluu managed to thwart off the stiff challenge from second seeds Natasha Palha and Rishika Sunkara.
With four of them playing each other very frequently, it was a tough match for all four.
The top seeds sealed the victory with a super-tiebreak win. The final score read 7-5 2-6 10-4.
Mixed Doubles: Divij Sharan/ Ankita Raina
Having failed to create any impact at the 2014 Asian Games, the duo of Divij Sharan and Ankita Raina clinched the gold medal at the South Asian Games.
The top seeds won the match with a final score of 6-2 7-6(3) against the second seeds Sanam Singh and Prarthana Thombare. They had earlier seen off Aisam Qureshi and Ushna Suhail of Pakistan in the semifinals.