Unseeded Darshan Pujari stormed into the men’s singles final and likewise earned the distinction of being the first-ever Puneite to make the singles (men or women) final in the eleven-year history of the India Junior International Grand Prix 2022 and played in memory of the Late Sushant Chipalkatti.
The 18-year-old Darshan defeated qualifier Dhruv Negi 21-12, 21-17 victory that took 39 minutes at the P. E. Society’s Modern PDMBA Sports Complex, on Saturday. The clash between India No. 10 Darshan and Uttrakhand’s Dhruv was the first ever.
For Darshan, a Khelo India winner, the title clash on Sunday will be his second in an international tourney having played the Indian Junior International Series at Hyderabad where he exits early losing to Malaysian world No. 1 Justin Ho.
“It was a learning experience I learnt a lot from that game and this time around I was determined to do well,” said the Pune lad.
In the final, Darshan takes on No. 7 seed Muhammad Halim As Sidiq (Indonesia), who defeated No. 8 Ayush Shetty 21-15, 21-15.
While Darshan basked in glory, it was not the same for local lass and No.7 seed Tara Shah who went down tamely to No.3 seed Haryana-lass Unnati Hooda in the first semifinal of the women’s singles.
Unnati all through was in the driver’s seat which eventually ended in her favour in straight games 21-9, 21-17.
The first game was a breeze for World No. 23 Unnati, who won seven points in a row and lead 7-0. Local favourite, Tara, ranked 64 ranks below her rival, found the gap too hard to narrow as Unnati thereafter upped the tempo to win three points in a row and swell the lead to 14-6, which eventually led to the end of the first ‘ame in Unnati’s favour.
In the second Unnati led 2-0, which Tara cut to 2-1, but then again like the first game the Haryana shuttler pulled away winning six points in a row to take an 8-1 lead. Tara, thereafter, got as close as 6-10 and then 17-19 but eventually it was a day out for the in-form player Unnati who was consistent all through the 27 minutes they were on the court.
RESULTS (All Indians unless mentioned otherwise):
Men’s Singles (semis): Darshan Pujari bt Q- Dhruv Negi 21-12, 21-17; 7-Muhammad Halim As Sidiq (Indonesia) Bt 8-Ayush Shetty 21-15, 21-15.
Men’s Doubles (semis): 4-Choi Jian Sheng/Bryan Jeremy Goonting (Malaysia) Bt Nicholas Raj/Tushar Suveer 21-14, 21-19
Women’s Singles (semis): 9-Sarunrak Vitidsarn (Thailand) bt 1-Anupama Upadhyaya 21-17, 21-16; 3-Unnati Hooda Bt 7-Tara Shah 21-9, 21-17 – 27 mins
Women’s Doubles (semis): Vennala Kalagotla/Shriyanshi Valishetty bt Navya Kanderi/Rakshitha Sree Santhosh Ramraj 22-20, 21-12; Nardhana Ravishankar/Ridhi Kaur Toor Bt Neysa Cariappa. A/Taneesha Singh
Mixed Doubles (semis): Prem Kumar Prabhu Raj Mohan/ Kanishka Ganesan Bt Sathwik Reddy Kanapuram/Vaishnavi Khadkekar 21-15, 21-12; Divyam Arora/ Ridhi Kaur Toor bt Samarveer/Radhika Sharma 22-20, 24-22.