Overwhelming response to all-India junior badminton tourney has organisers beaming

As two days of qualifying stretched into the third, Sanjiv Sachdeva, the organising secretary of the Krishna Khaitan Memorial All India Ranking badminton tournament, moved nervously on the wooden courts of the Panjab University badminton hall on Saturday.

His nervousness had nothing to do with the overwhelming response to the tournament; on the contrary he was delighted to see so many participants strutting around the courts. As the matches progressed, however, the fast disappearing boxes of shuttlecocks, had him worried.

With the main draw yet to start, the fast dwindling shuttlecocks are a cause for concern. Never before in the tournament, has Sachdeva faced such a predicament. He soon calls an official in Delhi and seeks more boxes of shuttlecocks to ensure players continue their march into the main tournament without any hiccups. "This year we had around 1,100 entries, which we had not expected. Last year we had around 800 entries and it is heartening to see such a good response for the tournament. The reason why so many boxes of shuttlecocks have already been exhausted is the high standard of the players. The matches, which were decided in two games, are now stretching to three and that means more shuttlecocks are being used by the players," chuckles Sachdeva, who is also a junior national coach.

"Even the qualifying matches have become so tough nowadays. I am delighted that the standard of players has become so high now," he adds.

Over the last 22 years, the Krishna Khaitan Memorial tournament has become one of the biggest for junior shuttlers. The tournament, organised by the Express Shuttle Club Trust, was conceived to provide budding stars with a platform. At one point, it was the only national tournament for young shuttlers with every player, who had later gone on to represent India at the highest level, having taken part in it.

The tournament was previously held in Chennai for 19 years and now Chandigarh has been playing host for the last three years. "The first two years was average but this year has been fantastic. Players from Punjab and Haryana have the build and the required stamina to become champions. It's a positive sign to see lots of players from the region making waves across the country," Sachdeva said. Top shuttlers from Chandigarh like Rupinderpal Singh and Oscar Bansal, have been part of the junior national team for several international tournaments.

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