Unnati Hooda becomes first Indian to compete in Badminton Asia Junior C’ships U-17 women’s singles final

Rising shuttlecock Unnati Hooda became the first Indian to compete in the U-17 women’s singles final of the Badminton Asia Junior Championships in Thailand’s Nothaburi on Saturday after beating Japanese Mion Yokouchi in two matches.

Unnati won 21-8, 21-17 against her Japanese rival in the U-17 women’s singles semifinals. She will face Sarunrak Vitidsarn from Thailand in the gold medal game on Sunday. Under-15 singles player Anish Thoppani and U-17 men’s doubles pair Arsh Mohammad and Sanskar Saraswat also recorded brilliant victories to progress to the final.

Top seed Unnati once again lived up to expectations and put her stamp on her authority as she finished the match in straight sets. The Odisha Open champion has yet to drop a set in her campaign at the prestigious event. The men’s doubles pairs of Arjun MR-Chirag Shetty (2013) and Krishna Prasad Garaga-Satwiksairaj Rankireddy (2015) won gold medals for India in the U-17 category during the tournament.

The on-form duo of Arsh and Sanskar also put on a similarly dominant performance against Chinese Taipei’s Chi-Ruei Chiu and Shao Hua Chiu to reach the U-17 men’s doubles final with an impressive 21-15, 21-19 victory in a lopsided game of the last four.

In the final, they will face another Chinese Taipei pair, namely Lai Po Yu and Yi-Hao Lin. In the men’s U-15 semi-final, Anish staged a sensational comeback after going one game behind to stun Chinese Taipei’s second seed Lee Yu-Jui 18-21 21-12 21-12.

In the final, Anish will face Chung-Hsiang Yih from Chinese Taipei, who beat Gnana Dattu from India 21-16 19-21 21-13 in another semifinal. Dattu signed off with bronze. In 2013, Siril Verma had won the gold medal in the men’s U-15 singles, while Samiya Farooqui and Tasnim Mir took the U-15 women’s singles titles in 2017 and 2019 respectively.

The U-15 men’s doubles pair of Bjorn Jaison and Aathish Sreenivas PV also won a voucher after losing to the top seeded Indonesian duo Muhammad Mubarrok and Raihan Pramono 18-21 14-21 in the semifinals.

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