Calcutta: Ramkumar Ramanathan walked away with the men’s National Grasscourt Championship, at the South Club, here, on Saturday. The 18-year-old from Tamil Nadu breezed past local favourite Saurav Sukul 6-2, 6-1 in just 59 minutes in one of the most one-sided finals in recent times.
In the women’s, Ankita Raina lived up to the billing beating Natasha Palha of Goa 6-1, 6-2. Ankita’s ‘double’ dream though was ruined as she and her partner Rushmi Chakravarthi lost to Treta Bhattacharya and Natasha 6-4, 1-6, 8-10.
Ramkumar, who trains at the Emilio Sanchez Academy in Barcelona, hardly plays on grass. But on a gloomy Saturday afternoon, he gave enough indication that he is developing as an extremely good serve-and-volley player.
He idolises Federer and, by his own admission, a chance meeting during the Australian Open last year should head the list of memorable things of his fledgling career so far.
“Not this title. Meeting with Federer tops the list. But yes this title is a very close second. I was playing the junior qualifiers when I bumped into my idol. It was a dream come true for me,” the shy Chennai lad said after the match.
As the scoreline suggested, Ramkumar did not have to break a sweat. Sukul was never in the match, making unforced errors and staying rooted to the baseline.
“I was very tired and exhausted after yesterday’s match. And Ramkumar played an amazing match today,” Sukul, the first from Bengal to enter the final after Syed Fazaluddin was candid.
Sukul’s failure to take chances also helped Ramkumar. In the fifth game, Sukul had two breakpoints.
But Ramkumar held his nerves and serve in style and then in the next game broke Sukul. In the eighth game again he broke Sukul’s serve to win the set 6-2.
The second set was the same old story as Ramkumar broke Sukul in the fourth and the sixth game.
“I had played the same tournament couple of years ago but could not do much as I was younger then. My game has improved a lot ever since I started training in Barcelona under coach Joan Balcells at the academy,” Ramkumar, who became the under-18 national champion consecutively in 2009 and 2010, said.
“Winning the Nationals is a big motivation and this will help me aim bigger in future,” said the player who wishes to be a part of the Davis Cup squad very soon.
Ankita, who lifted the title first in 2009, said she had been training hard to get back the crown.
“I did not make many errors and my shots were also landing in the right areas. It feels nice that my hard work has paid off,” Ankita, who idolises Serena Williams for her aggressive game, said.
Ankita, who has presently shifted base from Ahmedabad to Pune to train under coach Hemant Bendre, served and returned with aplomb and wrapped up the proceedings in 75 minutes.