Photo: Anand Chaini
Kunal Bhide in action
Suhrid Barua & B D Narayankar
PUNE: It was a battle between two unseeded players, but it had enough to keep the spectators' interest alive. Nikhil Bhandari was in a tearing hurry. If not anything, he gave out an impression that he had some important stuff to do than to wield the racquet as he took Kunal Bhate to the cleaners with an emphatic 21-4, 21-6 victory in the mens' singles first round match of the 63rd Pune district badminton championships, organised by Pune District and Metropolitan Badmiton Association (PDMBA) at the WIE sports complex here on Sunday.
The nimble-footed Nikhil played with purpose and knew what exactly he had to do to get the better of Kunal Bhate. Precise with his tosses and drop shots, he foiled all designs of Kunal to run him around on both sides of the court. Nikhil was quick to realise that Kunal was finding it difficult to cope with the well-camouflaged drops as his bulky frame was hampering his movements. Many a times, Kunal was literally toyed around by the leaner Nikhil, who fully capitalised on Kunal's feet of clay at the net.
What was so good about Nikhil's game was that he was never predictable. If at one time he was teasing and tormenting his opponent with frustration-creeping drops, while at other times he engaged him in long rallies, which was never comforting for Kunal.
To add to his woes, Kunal was also guilty of faulty service returns on quite a few occasions. Nikhil just run away with the opening game at 21-4 before maintaining a tight noose over Kunal racing out to a 3-0 lead in the second game. By then, Kunal was fighting a lost battle and was merely going through the motions. His agony came to an end when Nikhil closed out the match at 21-6 in a duel lasting just 12 minutes.
Top seeds have it easy
This match apart, almost all top seeded players of almost all categories sailed into the fourth round of the tournament beating their opponents easily here today.
In just over 15 minutes in third round of the U-13 Boys’ Singles event, top seed Sudhanshu Mediskar showed Punekars he was on top form and ready to take on stiff challenges as the tournament unfolds.
For Medsikar, this tournament is a testing ground for him, as he had the greatest of challenges ahead of him to succeed and drive home a point that his career in badminton is not going anywhere, but up. This he did in grand style by thumping his rival Ranade Jay 21-11, 21-5.
Considering the reputation of Jay, Medsikar did not have any difficulty in marching past his opponent. “I knew I was playing an unseeded player. But I did not take the game lightly. I employed a waiting game so as to study Jay. It worked. I knew the weak and strong points of Jay and it was easy for me to capitalise after this realisation,” Medsikar told Maharashtra Herald here on Sunday after the match.
In third round of U-16 Girls’ Singles event, top seed Sanyogita Ghorpade defeated Radhika Joshi 21-14, 21-9 in straight games. Displaying her killer-instinct spirit, top seed Aishwarya Dobhada registered a comfortable victory over Shinani Chordia 21-0, 21-5 in U13 Girls’ Singles event.
RESULTS: Mens’ Singles: I Round: Nikhil Bhandari bt Kunal Bhate 21-4, 21-6; U-13 Girls’ Singles: III Round: Aishwarya Dobhada bt Shinani Chordia 21-0, 21-5; U-16 Girls’ Singles: Sanyogita Ghorpade bt Radhika Joshi 21-14, 21-9; U-13 Boys’ Singles: Sudhanshu Mediskar bt Ranade Jay 21-11, 21-5.