Dubai, May 26 (IANS): Promising shuttlers Manisha Ramadass and Mandeep Kaur made a confident start in the 4th Fazza Dubai Para-Badminton International 2022 here as they defeated their opponents in straight games in women's doubles SL3-SU5 category.
The duo, targeting their fourth gold together after having dominated the SL3-SU5 women's doubles events in Spain, Brazil, and at the recent Bahrain Para-Badminton International, started their campaign with a 21-9, 21-13 win against Portugal's Beatriz Monteiro and France's Catherine Naudin in a first-round match on Wednesday.
Not just the doubles, the promising shuttlers have created a flutter in their respective singles event as well. While Mandeep, who started playing Para-Badminton in 2018, shocked reigning world champion Manasi Joshi at the recent Bahrain 2022 Para-Badminton International after taking gold in Spain, Manisha had a terrific run winning two women's singles SU5 gold in three competitions played this year.
Manisha in fact had one of her best moments defeating the Paralympic bronze medallist from Japan, Akiko Sugino at the Brazil 2022 Para-Badminton International. Continuing the run in Dubai, she shocked third-seeded Mamiko Tokyoda of Japan rallying from a game down 7-21, 21-19, 16-21to top Group C in women's singles SU5.
"It was an unforgettable experience. That win gave me a major confidence boost. A win against a top player makes you feel that you can beat anyone and that you can reach the top as well with hard work and determination.
"I am looking for consistent results and the next big goal will be a medal at the World Championships," said the 17-year-old Manisha, who won two gold medals in her very first international event in Spain Para-Badminton II.
The Chennai-born shutter, who also has paired up for mixed doubles with Pramod Bhagat since the Bahrain 2022 International, follows Saina Nehwal and wants to also inspire many other players with her performance.
Nithya's big ambitions
Another player in focus recently has been Nithya Sre Sumathy Sivan who won four gold medals in five tournaments including her first international at Spain Para-Badminton International.
The SH6 player, seeded no. 1 at Fazza Dubai International, also has a gold in the Asian Youth Para Games in December 2021. "I am my own toughest opponent. I have given a lot of points to my opponents through unforced errors in the past. I am trying to be calmer during my matches. It is getting better with each tournament," said Nithya, top-seeded women's singles and doubles SH6 in Dubai. She has already won her opening singles and doubles matches and is paired with Krishna Nagar for the mixed doubles.
"This year, I played my first international and I have set a big ambition for myself. I want to become the World no. 1 in women's singles SH6 event and also win a medal at the Paralympics," said the Tamil Nadu shuttler referring to the inclusion of the mixed doubles SH6 event at the Paralympics.
Chief National coach Gaurav Khanna added, "These girls are the future of Indian Para-Badminton. They are young and determined and are getting better with each tournament. I am confident they will be making it big in major events. We are already thinking about the Los Angeles 2028 and Brisbane 2032 Paralympics and these players would be our biggest medal prospects. Of course, Paris 2024 will be on our agenda."
Top seeds in action
Meanwhile, top seeds including Pramod Bhagat and Manasi Joshi were in action and won their first matches in a contrasting manner on Wednesday.
While Bhagat registered a convincing 21-12, 21-11 win over Cameroon's Isidore Kamgue in men's singles SL3, reigning world champion Manasi Joshi had to overcome a second game scare to beat Darunee Henpraiwan 24-22, 14-21, 22-20 in 47 minutes in women's singles SL3 Group A match.
Among others who got their campaigns off on a positive note were Tarun Dhillon (MS SL4), Manoj Sarkar (MS SL3), Prem Kumar Ale (MS WH1), and Parul Parmar (WS SL3) among others.