Ashwini just can’t wait for the Games to begin

Ashwini Ponnappa, the most experienced member of the Commonwealth Games-bound Indian badminton squad, says she is all geared up for the big challenge and determined to win a medal.

“The preparations have been good as we got some really quality sessions and we both (she and mixed doubles partner Sumeeth Reddy) are looking forward to a memorable outing in Birmingham,” Ashwini told The Hindu.

Gelling well

“For me, these Games are different as I am in the team as a mixed doubles player. We are going to give our best for sure,” she said. “Since India has never won a mixed doubles medal at the CWG, it will be awesome if we can pull off one. I enjoy playing with Sumeeth. Though we don’t play the conventional style, we have our own, unique way of gelling on the court,” Ashwini said.

“We believe we can be very effective with our own style and approach,” she said. “Sumeeth is fast, agile and has good half-smashes. For me, one of his strong points is his never-give-up attitude which is very important at any level. We are disciplined and are mentally tough. These things should help us go a long way,” she said.

High point

On the areas to improve, Ashwini said she was working on a strong serve, return and a third shot. Ashwini says she has had some pretty consistent partnerships, one of the high-points being the World championship women’s doubles bronze partnering G. Jwala.

“Only last year I experimented in mixed doubles with different partners. But, my strong points are I can hold my own while defending. I’ve gotten better at the net and of course my smashes are helpful in mixed doubles, too,” Ashwini explained.

“Combinations from Singapore, Malaysia and England can pose a serious challenge,” she said.

Ready for anything

Sumeeth, who overcame serious health issues recently, felt they were ready to tackle whatever the Games throw at them.

“Yes, there is an ardent desire to win at this level. I believe we are going in the right direction,” he said.

“Ashwini has a lot of strong points and we can play different styles even while focusing on how to implement the gameplan and try to get better each day,” Sumeeth said.

“I always challenge myself to give my best. I am always open to listening to what my partners say for better results. I believe attitude and grit are the key for big wins,” he concluded.

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