HYDERABAD: Filled courts, shuttlers training in pairs, fine-tuning their skills under the watchful eyes of the coaches, discussing strategies, and sweating it out three sessions per day; these are usual scenes at the Pullela Gopichand academy here.
Among these cluster of players are Sikki Reddy and Pranaav Jerry Chopra, who can been seen putting in the extra yards, for the upcoming World Championship in Glasgow. Sitting in one corner of the court is doubles coach Kim Tan Her, who is focusing on each and every movement of the pair, and making notes.
This is a routine exercise for the Malaysian coach who likes to give special attention to each and every doubles pair, but if one were to believe him, Sikki and Pranaav are a tad special.
“It’s been less than two years only, and these two have already shown tremendous improvement playing together. Their graph has constantly gone up, and both have managed to mostly stay injury-free. To reach a world ranking of 13 is a great achievement. But now, the hard work starts and they have their task cut out.
“They have to produce more winning efforts to enter the top-10 bracket. Their training, skill, and discipline is same as some of top shuttlers from other countries, but they need to be mentally tougher,” coach Tan explained to Express.
“They have the tendency to give away some easy points on service returns, which they need to change. That will help bring in the consistency to their game,” the animated coach added.
Coach Tan is well aware of the individual strengths of Pranaav and Sikki and is banking on them to achieve their target during the World Championship, which he believes will set an example for other doubles pairs in the country.
Both Sikki and Pranaav also feel that they have an outside chance in the tournament and term themselves as ‘underdogs’. They feel that they have no pressure going into the championship, and also have a slight advantage having already played in Glasgow this year at the Scottish Grand Prix, where they managed to make it to the finals.
“We have got a bye in the first round. We are not thinking about the results as of now. Having played there already, we know the conditions and it will prove beneficial for us. We are training well, and if we can produce a couple of upsets, we will be in with a good chance to win a medal,” Sikki said.
While Sikki specialises in net play and interceptions, Pranaav is the one who is in charge of covering the back-court and putting in a lot of force behind the shuttle.
This strategy clearly seems to be working for the pair, and they plan to put this to good use once the tournament gets underway.
“I am usually at the net, and that suits my style of play. Pranaav can easily cover the back-court. This has been working well for us. I have the same role in women’s doubles with Ashwini Ponnappa as well,” she concluded.