Gautam Thakkar Memorial All-India Junior Masters Badminton Tournament from November 22-25

Mumbai: The cream of India’s teenaged badminton talent will vie for top honours in the Rs 10 lakhs prize-money second Gautam Thakkar Memorial All India Junior Masters Prize Money Badminton Tournament, to be played at the Bombay Gymkhana courts from November 22-25, 2012.

Khalid Ansari, a close friend of the late Gautam Thakkar, and President of the Gautam Thakkar Memorial Badminton Association is the driving force behind the hosting of this tournament. He informed media persons on Tuesday afternoon that it was fitting for Bombay Gymkhana to conduct a tournament for youngsters in the honour of Gautam Thakkar.

“The tournament is being held to sanctify the memory of India’s first and only Asian junior champion Gautam Thakkar, who won the crown at Lucknow in 1965, and then went on to bag the Maharashtra State singles title a record six times in a row,” he said.

Gautam Thakkar BadmintonThis tournament would also help to encourage the young talented players and give others a chance to watch some of the leading young players in action,” Ansari further stated.

Bombay Gymkhana’s immediate past President Ashok Rao pointed out that Thakkar remained loyal to the sport, never missing his daily date with badminton on the courts of the Bombay Gymkhana. He would never miss his sessions at 3.00 pm in the afternoons, in the summer heat or winter. I along with former Indian cricket captain Sunil Gavaskar were his partners,” said Rao.

All the top junior girls and boys in the country, including trainees of the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy and Gopi Chand Badminton Academy, will showcase their talents at the tournament. Harsheel Dani (reigning Under-19 national singles champion), Aditya Joshi (silver medalist with Harsheel Dani in the 2011 Russian Junior International doubles event), Rohit Yadav (ranked No.1 in the U-19 singles in India), Shreyansh Jayaswal, Kaushal Dharmamer, Shlok Ramchandran, Sara Naqvi, Sudha Kalyani and Riya Pillai, to name just a few, will take part in this prestigious tournament, which has become a blue-ribbon event in the Badminton Association of India’s annual calendar.

As was done during the inaugural competition last year, matches will take place on a League-cum-knockout basis. The top 12 singles players and top six doubles pairs (both Boys and Girls) in the Under-17 and Under-19 age groups, as per the current National rankings, will vie for top honours in this premier event.

Prizes for the Under-19 singles winners have been raised to 75,000 (from Rs 60,000 last year), while the Under-17 singles champions will take home Rs 50,000 each (up from Rs 40,000 last year). The doubles winners in the Under-19 and Under-17 categories will share Rs 70,000 and Rs 50,000, respectively.

Each of the participants, including the last finishers in the group stage of the singles and doubles, stand to gain some prize money, while the knockout stage will see prize money increase from the quarter-final stage on wards in singles and semi-final stage on wards in doubles. In addition, all the participants will be provided snacks, lunch and dinner, while subsidised accommodation will be made available to all outstation players.

Maharashtra Badminton Association President Pradeep Gandhe, who is one of the moving forces behind the just-announced Indian Badminton League (IBL), felt that the Gautam Thakkar Memorial Tournament would provide badminton lovers in Mumbai an opportunity to witness the best of the country’s youth in action, and assess the country’s international future in the sport, in the wake of Saina Nehwal’s recent exploits on the world stage.

“Budding players will also get a chance to see the country’s best youngsters in action, and work out for themselves the efforts they need to make in coming years if they hope to step into the shoes of the country’s top juniors,” Gandhe said.

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