Unnati Hooda, Anupama Upadhyaya, Pranav Rao to vie for top honors at Krishna Khaitan Memorial Junior Ranking badminton tournament

The highly anticipated Yonex-Sunrise 29th Smt Krishna Khaitan Memorial All India Junior Under-19 Ranking Badminton Tournament will begin on Thursday.

As one of the oldest national junior badminton tournaments in the country, this edition of the event has been postponed twice. It will be held from July 7th to 13th at Tau Devi Lal Sports Complex in Panchkula.

The nation’s biggest up-and-coming talents will be in action at the week-long tournament. The U-19 Panchkula Badminton Tournament continues to gain momentum as it will also serve as the selection process for the selection of the Indian junior team.

The tournament is organized by the Express Shuttle Club Trust under the auspices of the Haryana Badminton Association and the Badminton Association of India.

The qualifying rounds begin on Thursday, while the main draw begins on July 10th.

Some of the country’s most talented teenagers such as Unnati Hooda, Anupama Upadhyaya, Sakshi Phogat, Pranav Rao Gandham, Bharat Raghav and Darshan Pujari will compete for the highest honors of the tournament.

15-year-old Unnati Hooda has been in brilliant form this year. The Haryana teenage sensation burst into the spotlight when she emerged champion at the Odisha Open BWF World Tour Super 100 in January 2022.

Unnati, who represented the country at the prestigious Uber Cup a few months ago, became Khelo India Champion last month.

Unnati’s compatriot Anupama Upadhyaya is also a contender for the title. As the winner of the 2020 Polish International Challenge, Anupama is ranked 4th in the world in U-19 girls’ singles. Sakshi Phogat is the top seed and one of the dark horses in the tournament.

Southpaw Pranav Rao Gandham of Telangana, Bharat Raghav and Darshan Pujari of Maharashtra will be the contenders for the U19 boys’ singles title.

Krishna Khaitan badminton tournament resumes after two-year hiatus

The tournament is held after a break of two years and is one of the three selection tournaments. BAI will select the junior teams for various international events including the BWF World Junior Championships to be held in Santander, Spain in October.

The organizing secretary of the tournament, Sanjiv Sachdeva, is happy that the tournament is finally taking place since 2019.

“The tournament comes after a two-year hiatus and we have received more than 1,350 registrations for the tournament. More than 550 entries are in the Boys’ Singles category, while nearly 330 girls will compete in the Girls’ Singles category, including qualifying rounds. Unnati Hooda, India’s youngest player to win a BWF World Tour Super 100 title, will compete in both the singles and doubles tournaments,” Sachdeva said on the eve of the tournament.

Sachdeva, a former junior head coach of India and now a member of BAI’s junior selection committee, said past winners of the tournament include Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and Malvika Bansod.

Due to Covid-19 protocols, he said, organizers will not be allowing parents onto the pitches during the games.

At the recent All India U-13 Ranking Tournament organized by Punjab Badminton Association in Mohali, there were many protests from parents regarding age cheating. As a result, the BAI blocked the BAI IDs of two players from Rajasthan.

“Surinder Mahajan, BAI Secretary and member of the BAI Age Fraud Committee, will be a BAI observer during the tournament. The federation will verify each individual’s participation in the tournament. More than 20 BAI-approved umpires, including chief umpire Ramakrishnaiah, will be officiating the tournament and main draw games will begin on July 1,” Sachdeva said.

Sachdeva assured that there will be no such case at the Panchkula tournament and suspicious players will be closely monitored.

Seedings for U-19 badminton tournaments

U-19 Boys Singles

1. Pranav Rao Gandham

2. Bharat Raghav

3. Darshan Pujari

4. Tonmoy Bikash Boruah

U-19 Girls Singles

1. Sakshi Phogat

2. Anupama Upadhyaya

3. Devika Sihag

4. Akanksha Mat

U-19 boys in doubles

1. Darshan Pujari – Abhinav Thakur

2. Uneeth Krishna BV – Shashank Chhetri

3. Saikat Banerjee-Nikhil Chetry

4. Nicholas Nathan Raj-Tushar Suveer

U-19 girls in doubles

1. Gnanadha Karthikeyan-Sania Sikkandar

2. Vaishnavi Khadkekar-Sri Sai Sravya Lakkamraju

3. Ridhi Kaur Toor Nardhana VR

4. Isharani Baruah-Devika Sihag

U-19 mixed doubles

1. Anshul Budhwar – Awantika Pandey

2. Ayan Rashid Srinitya Naraharisetti

3. Mayank Rana – Nardhana VR

4. Samarveer – Radhika Sharma.


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