Down 3-8 in the second game against Janavi Sudhir of Delhi, 16-year-old Maini Boruah did not look like playing in her third match of the day. For somebody, who was making a return to competitive badminton after a gap of more than a year due to an ankle injury, Boruah won the next seven consecutive points before winning the second game to advance into the girls’ U-17 singles third qualifying round with a 15-6, 15-13 win in the 26th Smt. Krishna Khaitan Memorial All India Junior Ranking and Prize Money Badminton Tournament at Panjab University.
Boruah, who is a native of Shiva Nagar in Assam, also booked her berth in the third qualification round in the girls’ U-19 category and the girl, who was once India No 2 in U-13s, is counting on such performances to climb up in the national rankings.
“I was playing in a national ranking tournament after more than 18 months and during the train-journey from Guwahati to Delhi, I was only thinking about making a winning start. I knew that I could play for four matches in a day and had prepared for this. The ankle injury happened just one month before I was selected for the Assam Badminton Academy in Guwahati and I would train for ground shots and serve for initial months,” she said.
A native of Sivasagar in Assam, the 5′ 3” tall player started playing badminton at the local stadium on the insistence of her father Suresh Boruah, who works as the lead fireman in Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL). The youngster became the state champion in 2010 before winning the silver medal in girls’ doubles in All India Sub-Junior Ranking Tournament in Durgapur apart from winning the bronze medal in doubles in All India Rankings Tournament in Guwahati the same year.
Boruah would also win the silver medal in SGFI Badminton Nationals before reaching the quarter-finals in junior nationals in Rohtak in 2015. Last year saw the youngster shifting to Guwahati to join the ABA and like many youngsters, it also meant that Boruah had to manage things on her own in Assam’s capital.
“My younger sister is a dancer and my father always encouraged us to take up sport. He is posted in Rajasthan for the last three years and he wanted me to join the ABA at Guwahati. Even though it meant staying alone and managing my training, he encouraged me. Currently we are seven girls training out of the total 50-55 trainees in Guwahati and sparring with Indian junior number 2 Ashmita Chaliha has also helped my game. She shared her experience of playing in World Junior Championships and Asian Junior Championships with us,” she said.
ABA coach Suranjan Bhobora, who won the U-13 singles and doubles titles of this tournament back in 2001, has been coaching the trainees at the academy since the last three years and he believes Assam players can dominate at the junior level first.