Nikshep, Abhinikka emerge champions

Bangalore: B.R. Nikshep of Karnataka and R. Abhinikka of Tamil Nadu emerged champions in the boys and girls singles, respectively on the concluding day of the RT Narayan Memorial AITA National Series Under-16 Tennis Tournament here Sunday.

Top seed Nikshep, who is also the National Under-15 boys champion, humbled the ninth seed Rian Pandole of Maharashtra at 6-3, 6-2, in the final which lasted about 100 minutes.

Second seed Abhinikka defeated the top seed Snehal Mane of Maharashtra 6-4, 6-0, in a rather team girls final.

All eyes were on Nikshep as a sizeable home crowd rooted for the local lad and he did not disappoint them. Playing aggressively, with his double fisted backhand and solid forehand, he had the measure of gritty Pandole, who is ranked No. 19.

Nikshep was quicker of the two on the court and dominated the proceedings, punching winners on both flanks. Pandole had his moments though, when he broke Nikshep couple of times in the tie, but failed to sustain the momentum and lacked sheer consistency of his rival.

In the first set, Nikshep broke Pandole in the first and third games, and led 4-0. He was again set for another break in the fifth, but Pandole rallied strongly to save three breakpoints to hold serve.

Keeping up the charge, Pandole did well to break Nikshep in the sixth game. Nikshep looked vulnerable at this stage, despite breaking Pandole again in the seventh game for a 5-2 lead.

The Mumbaikar, without losing hope stayed in the fight, cracking Nikshep in the eighth game, but a resilient Nikshep broke back to wrap up the set.

It was Nikshep all the way in the second set as he broke his rival in the fourth and sixth games to lead 5-1, before Pandole pulled back to crack Nikshep’s serve in the seventh game. But it was too late for a comeback as Nikshep struck again in the eighth game with consummate ease to wrap up the set, match and title.

In the girls final, Abhinikka used her good height and reach to put up a commendable performance against Mane, who is ranked No.4 in the country. Abhinnika, ranked 11, covered the court well and came good with her volleys and served solidly to keep her rival in check to run out an easy winner.

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