As singles stock rises,trouble in doubles

The Bryanesque screaming in delight and jumping into each others’ arms was greeted with a standing ovation by the captivated crowd.

Written by Aabha Rathee | New Delhi | Published: February 20, 2009 11:40 pm

The Bryanesque screaming in delight and jumping into each others’ arms was greeted with a standing ovation by the captivated crowd. A day later,the pair was calmly shaking hands after completing the formalities of winning another national title.

Sanave Thomas and Rupesh Kumar’s exuberance may be justified,but that was the closest the defending champions came to being challenged. In a meet that had the country’s best doubles talent on display,they were pushed by a scratch pairing playing their first and,in all likelihood,only high-profile tournament together. One half of it was a singles specialist in team colours — Anup Sridhar,and V Diju.

The runaway winners,however,are not even in the national team for the next three tournaments. For a country looking at this year as one where all of badminton’s sweet spots of last season are expected to spread wider,the men’s doubles is a hole hard to fill.

Thomas and Rupesh are ranked 25th in the world. The next Indian names are at the 90th spot,that of Akshay Dewalkar and Jishnu Sanyal,former junior national champions who paired up again only recently.

“The picture is not rosy,” admits Leroy D’Sa,a doubles specialist in his playing years and a former national doubles coach. “Sanave and Rupesh are undoubtedly the best pair at the moment,but there is a very big gap that needs to be filled,” he adds,who couldn’t be in Indore and said he would wait before commenting on the upcoming crop.

Kerala’s Diju,who has found recent international success in mixed doubles with Jwala Gutta,has been devoid of a regular,dependable partner for a while now. “There is definitely a gap as far as doubles in India go at the moment. The older generation is on a downslide,the newer crop is yet to mature,” he said,speaking to The Indian Express. Diju says his own combination with Sridhar was just a one-off deal. “I’ve spoken to Thomas Kurien and we’re planning to team up soon,” he says.

Kurien,who played with Joy T Anthony in the nationals,went out in the quarters to the young and fairly inexperienced pair of Tarun K and Arun Vishnu. “It’s unfortunate that they have not managed to find Diju a regular partner for a good two years now,” D’Sa says.

Tarun and Vishnu made the Indore final and fizzled out 21-15 21-16,but they have had quarter-final appearances in the Bahrain International and the Sweden International this season. Aged 19 and 20 respectively,they teamed up only about a year back and still need to figure each other out. “We still have to sort out seamless on-court communication,but we’re hopeful of getting good international results in a couple of years,” says Tarun.

Rupesh insists continued international exposure is the only way forward. “They need more and more tournaments. Experience is the only way to get a successful doubles partnership going,” he says.

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