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Vishnu, Palha rule the roost

Calcutta: Vishnu Vardhan and Natasha Palha won the men’s and women’s titles at the National Grasscourt Championships at South Club on Saturday. While Vishnu overcame Jayaprakash Mohit Mayur 6-4,7-6 (7-4) Natasha sailed past Rushmi Chakravarthi 6-1, 6-1.

The final match witnessed a total of 25 aces with Vishnu banging in 18 — six in the first set and 12 in the second.

An early break at one game all gave Vardhan a lead of 3-1, with which he eventually won the opening set 6-4. The second was a closely fought battle. From 4-4, Vishnu pulled out the next 3 consecutive points with flawless serves and volleys to pocket the title.

The women’s singles was a one-sided affair which lasted 62 minutes. Natasha, who turned 20 a day earlier, never gave the experienced Rushmi any chance with her athleticism and ground-strokes.

This was the first national title for the India No.5 after failed attempts on three previous occasions in the junior circuit. “I had lost in the final of the National Grasscourt last year and was waiting for this day… I didn’t want this opportunity to go abegging,” Natasha said later.

“I didn’t expect the match to be so easy… I think Rushmi was a little tired after playing three matches at a stretch yesterday. Being young, I obviously was more fitter and it showed in my movement in the court,” she explained.

The girl from Agasian near Panjim took to tennis at an early age encouraged by her parents. “There’s not much opportunity to play tennis in Goa and so my dad arranged for a cement court in the backyard of our ancestral house… That’s how it all started,” said Natasha.

Dempo supports her looking after the travelling, accommodation and other related matters. That has always encouraged Natasha to improve.

What is her aim now? “I want to be the No.1 in India… I’m ranked 598 in the WTA rankings. To make a mark I’ve to be at least in the top-300,” she said.

Results (Finals)

v Men’s singlesVishnu Vardhan (3, TN) bt Jayaprakash Mohit Mayur (2, TN) 6-4,7-6 (7-4)

v Women’s singles — Natash Palha (2, Goa) bt Rushmi Chakravarthi (7, TN) 6-1,6-1

v Men’s doubles — Ronak Manuja / Ashwin Vijayragavan(Mah / AP) bt Vijjay Sundar Prashanth / Md Fariz (TN) 7-6 (7-2), 6-4

v Women’s doubles — Rushmi Chakravarthi /Bhuvana Kalva (TN/AP) bt Natasha Palha (Goa) & Nidhi Chilumula (AP) 6-2,7-6 (7-4)