It was moments after her fighting 21-13, 21-23, 21-16 win over Tanvi Sharma of Punjab in the girls’ U19 singles final of the Yonex Sunrise 30th Smt Krishna Khaitan Memorial All India Junior Ranking Prize Money tournament being organised Express Shuttle Club Trust at the Tau Devi Lal Sports Complex. But the Haryana youngster 16-year-old Anmol Kharb remembered to take a picture alongside a poster of London Olympics bronze medall Saina Nehwal outside the venue.
Nehwal had won the U-17 and U-19 title in the year 2003 and 2006 respectively before her breaking onto the international scene and that’s what the Faridabad youngster, who won the Naidu Hall Trophy for winning the title, wants to emulate in her career.
“Saina didi remains one of the pioneers of Indian badminton at the world level and I am glad that I could win one of the tournaments, which she won as a junior player. I was not born in 2006 but seeing her picture of winning the trophy in 2006 during the whole week inspired me a lot. Hopefully, I get to play international circuit soon in my career and make a smooth transition just like she did,” says Kharb while speaking with The Indian Express.
The Haryana youngster, whose father Devender Singh works as an advocate in Faridabad, had started playing badminton on seeing her elder brother Hardik play the sport. But her brother’s decision to concentrate more on his studies meant that the youngster had to go it alone after taking up the sport seriously.
Initially, the Haryana youngster would play at the Dayanand Public School in Faridabad before she started training at the Sunrise Shuttlers Academy in Noida. “My elder brother would often take me to the badminton court and I took up the game as fun. Only when he told my parents that he wants to pursue engineering, I started taking interest in badminton. When I shifted my training base to Noida, it also meant my mother Rajbala Kharb would accompany me the whole day and wait at the academy for hours while I trained. This still remains the case and when I won the title today, she was cheering for me along with my father courtside,” says Kharb.Most Read
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In 2019, the youngster reached the U-13 quarters in the Sub-Junior Nationals at Bhagalpur where she lost to Unnati Hooda. Last year, Kharb reached the final of the U-17 Sub-junior Nationals at Bhubaneswar apart from a semi-final finish in the U-19 Junior Nationals at the same venue. The year also saw her winning her maiden U-17 All India Ranking title at Hyderabad and a semi-final finish in the Senior All India Ranking tourney at Visakhapatnam.
This year, the youngster reached the pre-quarters in the Asian Junior Championships in Indonesia apart from claiming the U-17 crown at the Sub-Junior Nationals at Hyderabad. “At the Sunrise Shuttlers Academy, I train under coach Kusam along with Indonesian coaches and the foreign coaches have put the focus on getting my racquet face fully open apart from increasing the pace on the shuttle. It has helped me at the U-17 level. The semi-final finish in the Senior Ranking tournament made me believe that I can compete at the senior level too when I get the chance. My focus is now on the U-19 as well as the senior level in the coming years,” says the youngster.
Kharb also paired up with Vennala K of Telangana to win the girls’ doubles title and the Rachel Goenka Trophy with a 17-21, 21-15, 21-11 win. “I watch videos of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty bhaiya often and it helps to create the doubles placements in my mind. I am also a fan of Tokyo Olympics champion Chen Yufei and the way she manages the court and dictates terms is my favourite,” says Kharb.