By Neha Aggarwal
The Big Risk
With high risk, comes high reward. Manav Thakkar knew this well. In the junior boys’ team semi finals, he lost both his singles matches and was highly disappointed. He admitted, “After coming back from Czech Open, I felt that the conditions in Indore were different and the first two days I felt there was something wrong with my blade. I just could not figure out the reason for it.”
Upset with the semi finals loss and unable to find out the what was going wrong, Manav decided to change his blade and get a new one. “My teammate Siddhesh Pandey had an extra blade that was used for an year. I request him to lend it to me. The night after loosing in team event semi finals, I was thinking of the solutions, I wanted to take this risk. I made myself a new racquet and started playing with it for singles”
The risk was rewarded. With the new blade, Manav had a better feeling which is proved in his results. Enroute winning the title, he showed no mercy, he beat all the three players from Chinese Taipei.
Semi finals: The game changer
In the semi finals stage, Manav faced Lai Chi-Chien, ranked number 45 in under-18 boys’ world rankings. Despite a four nil victory (11-8, 11-6, 11-7, 14-12), Manav confessed that it was a tough fight. “The game was very hard; I had lost to Lai in the team event two days back. We both have the same playing style. But my strategy to keep playing to his backhand worked well.”
The win gave him a lot of confidence as both players are of a similar caliber. “I said to myself, Lai and I are similar players, if I can beat Lai 4-0, I can definitely win the finals”.
This victory gave Manav a new found confidence. He walked in the finals thinking nothing but the gold.
The finals: endurance is the key
Manav faced 15-year old Tai Ming-Wei in the finals. In the semi finals earlier, Tai thrashed host nation’s Anirban Ghosh and was crowned the champion in the Cadet boys’ singles.
But Manav is a tough nut to crack. As Tai was leading 3-2 and 6-3 in the 6th set, he took a time out and sat on the floor. “As Tai was on the floor, I realized that he had played too many matches that day. He was tired and that was my chance. I recovered from there and endured my best in the deciding game.”
In the final set, leading 7-3, Manav knew that Tai had already given up. “His services are not too strong. I also kept playing long rallies to his backhand that made all the difference at the end.” Manav presevered till the end, he knocked down Tai 11-9, 9-11, 12-10, 8-11, 11-5, 8-11 7-11 to give the Indian team its first gold medal of the tournament.
Manav also won the gold medal in Junior Boys doubles partnering Devarajan Ananth. They beat Lai Chi-Chien and Tai Ming-Wei three games to two encounter 11-7, 7-11, 11-7, 8-11,12-10.