Lucknow (The Hindu): Sameer Verma had to settle for the silver medal as he lost to the superior second-seeded Malaysian Zulkiffli Zulfadli in the boys’ singles final of the Badminton Asia youth under-19 championships at the U.P. Badminton Academy courts, Gomti Nagar, here on Saturday.
Verma, who had won loads of appreciation for his excellent performance in the semifinals, could not handle the pressure of playing in a big final in front of the loudly cheering home crowd.
Besides, Zulkiffli’s attacking intent took the top-ranked Indian junior by surprise. The Malaysian used his smashes and placement with utmost effectiveness to outshine Verma, who made the matter worse with some silly mistakes at the net.
Still, major part of the first game was a neck-and-neck affair and was nicely poised at 14-15 at one stage.
Verma could not hold his nerve and made several unforced errors, five to be precise, to help the Malaysian take one game lead.
Zulkiffli was successful in carrying forward the momentum in his favour and maintained his accuracy — be it a shot loaded with power or a delicate touch closer to the net.
In the second game, Verma tried to stage a comeback by engaging Zulkiffli in some impressive rallies.
However, the Indian did not succeed as his rival moved ahead with a six-point lead.
Since Verma had conceded so much ground to his opponent, he could not make up the gap even though he saw the Malaysian tiring fast.
Zulkiffli fell down on the court and was in tears after scoring the match point.
Verma aptly analysed his performance.
“He (Zulkiffli) was very attacking from the beginning. So, I became defensive and paid the price,” said Verma.
However, the 17-year-old Indian looked at the brighter side of the championship. “I reached the final and it is big thing for me,” he said.
P. Gopi Chand, the mentor and coach of Verma, was disheartened that his ward could not play his natural game. “He made a lot of mistakes at the net,” said Gopi Chand.
At the same time, the coach counted on the positives and said it was a good sign that the Indian players had done well in a championship of this level.
In the individual events, Indonesian players cornered glory for their country by claiming two gold medals (in mixed doubles and girls’ doubles).
China, Malaysia and Chinese Taipei bagged one gold each.
Talented home shuttler P.V. Sindhu was eligible for a bronze medal for making the girls’ singles semifinals.
The results (Finals, Indians unless specified):
Boys’ singles:(2) Zulfadli Zulkiffli (Mas) bt Sameer Verma 21-15, 21-17.
Boys’s doubles:(4) Yu Lin Chia-Jui Huang Po (Tpe) bt Yao Lu Ching-En Huang Chu (Tpe) 21-14, 21-13.
Girls’ singles:Yu Sun (Chn) bt Yaying Shen (Chn) 21-8, 21-13.
Girls’ doubles:Rizki Andini Suci-Rosalia N. Tiara (INA) bt (4) Kuan Mei Chow-Yean Lee Meng (Mas) 21-18, 16-21, 21-12.
Mixed doubles:Apri N. Lukhi-Ririn Amelia (INA) bt Tiyani Pei-Dongni Ou (Chn) 15-21, 21-16, 25-23.