A step down at nationals, Jwala-Ashwini step it up
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Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa made short work of their opponents KP Shruthi and Farah Mather of Kerala in the Womens Team competition of the 69th Senior Nationals. Indeed the nature of their 21-9 21-18 win was so facile that the Commonwealth Games winning duo shifted down gears towards the end of their match. Gutta admitted to making a few errors as she was simply unused to the slow game of her opponent.
"I'm playing the nationals after a long time. And the difference in level between the international level and in India is massive. From the Commonwealth Games onwards, Ashwini and I were playing a very quick game. So when you suddenly find the game slowed down, you make a lot of simple mistakes because the shuttle reaches you long after you are expecting it to," she says.
Jwala though admits she still has some way to go to perform at the highest level again. After the 2012 Olympics, she took a break from the game. "After playing in London, I had a hard time motivating myself. I kept delaying, saying I would start training seriously one week later, then one week later. Also at that point of time Ashwini had started playing with Pradnya Gadre and I didn't want to break their partnership," she says.
The break lasted seven months. Ultimately though Gutta forced herself to get back on the court. "I told myself that I am not yet old and I don't have any injuries and that I still have a few years left," she says. And while Ponnappa and Gutta paired up once again at the Bitburger Open Grand Prix Gold in Germany a couple of months back, the two have been a bit rusty. In an effort to get as much match practice at possible, the two have not just been playing international tournaments but also smaller events in India like the Open India International Challenge in Mumbai last week.