New Delhi: Vashisht Cheruku came out with all guns blazing to defeat defending champion B.R. Nikshep in the Under-16 final of the 20th Fenesta Open National Tennis Championships to clinch the boys singles title at the Delhi Lawn Tennis Association (DLTA) Complex here Saturday.
It was a topsy-turvy contest between the top seeded Nikshep and Cheruku but in the end the second seed, first saved a match point, and then toppled Nikshep 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 in an engrossing battle which lasted two hours and 25 minutes.
In the girls U-16 singles summit clash, Gujarat's second seed Zeel Desai drubbed Ramya Natrajan 7-5, 6-0 in an hour and 25 minutes.
Bangalore's Cheruku showed great determination as he turned the contest on its head after losing the first set and then coming back from a match point down in the third set.
At the start, however, it was Nikshep who called the shots, breaking Cheruku in the first game and quickly taking a 3-0 lead. Cheruku broke Nikshep back in the fourth game but then dropped serve twice to hand over the advantage.
Cheruku stormed back playing some aggressive tennis in the second set and broke Nikshep thrice to draw parity. There was not much to choose between the two players in the decider as they battled hard for supremacy.
Nikshep got the break early in the third set but Cheruku was not far behind and got the break back in the eighth game to come on level terms.
Nikshep, however, got the crucial break in the ninth game and was ready to serve out the set but Cheruku had other plans. Nikshep held a match point but Cheruku saved it as the former hit wide. Cheruku did not give him another chance and broke Nikshep.
Cheruku then held his serve and had a match-point in the 12th game. He lost one but sealed the chance on the next opportunity.
"I just thought that I did not want to give away the match to him and fight till the end. The perseverance paid off," said Cheruku.
Nikshep later revealed that he had injured his right elbow during the semi-finals. "I was playing with pain killers and finding it difficult while serving but credit to him the way he fought back," said Nikshep.
The U-14 boys singles title was claimed by Chandigarh's Digvijay Singh, who upset top seed Siddhant Banthia 6-3, 6-0 while the U-14 girls title was won by Sathwika Sama, who beat Sabhyata Nihalani 6-2, 6-2.
U-16 boys singles: 2-Vashisht Cheruku bt 1-B.R. Nikshep 2-6, 6-2, 7-5
U-16 girls singles: 2-Zeel Desai bt Ramya Natrajan 7-5, 6-0
U-14 boys singles: Digvijay Pratap Singh bt 1-Siddhant Banthia 6-3, 6-0
U-14 girls singles: Sathwika Sama bt Sabhyata Nihalani 6-2, 6-2