Fourteen-year-old Unnati Hooda capped a splendid run with an impressive finish against a fighting Smit Toshniwal to become the youngest winner of the women singles title in the $75,000 Odisha Open badminton tournament at Cuttack on Sunday.
For the men’s singles title, Kiran George staved off a remarkable rally from Priyanshu Rajawat in three games.
The newsmaker of the day was the Haryana school-girl who kept her calm to claim the first game. Trailing 9-14, Unnati battled hard to surge ahead at 18-17 to lead for the first time. Though Smit drew level, Unnati won three straight points to close the game.
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In the second game, Unnati jumped to a 17-4 lead before Smit closed the gap to seven points. Like in the first game, Unnati claimed the final three points for the title.
In the men’s final, after the players were locked 1-1, the decider saw Priyanshu blow away a 10-5 lead after George won eight points on the trot to lead 17-12. Though Priyanshu fought well to catch up at 18, George was not to be denied.
In another all-India final, Treesa Jolly and P. Gayatri defeated Sanyogita Ghorpade and Shruti Mishra to win the women’s doubles title.
However, in the men’s doubles and mixed doubles finals, where the home-grown talents faced overseas rivals, there was disappointment for the host.
The results (final):
Men singles: Kiran George bt Priyanshu Rajawat 21-15, 14-21, 21-18
Women singles: Unnati Hooda bt Smit Toshniwal 21-18, 21-11
Mixed doubles: Sachin Dias & Thilini Hendahewa (Sri) bt M. R. Arjun & Treesa Jolly 21-16, 22-20.