Lakshya Sen: Tata Open title will help me in PBL
The Almora-born youngster had defeated Thailand's Kunlavat Vitidsarn, a two-time world junior champion, to lift the title in Mumbai at the Cricket Club of India after having finished runner-up last year
Buoyed by the men's singles title triumph in the Tata Open India International Challenge Sunday, rising shuttler Lakshya Sen is keen to carry that winning momentum into the upcoming Premier Badminton League (PBL) for debutants Pune7Aces. The Almora-born youngster had defeated Thailand's Kunlavat Vitidsarn, a two-time world junior champion, to lift the title in Mumbai at the Cricket Club of India after having finished runner-up last year.
"This tournament (Tata Open) which I won yesterday will definitely boost my confidence, because it was a senior tournament and I'll carry that momentum with me to the PBL (Premier Badminton League)," Sen told reporters here. With the Sunday victory, the Asian junior champion had thus avenged his defeat to Vitidsarn in the semi-finals of the Junior Worlds in Canada last month. Sen, along with Ajay Jayaram, Prajakta Sawant and doubles specialist Chirag Shetty, spoke at the launch of the Pune7Aces. Also present was actress Tapasee Pannu, who is the co- owner of the franchise. The 17-year-old shuttler, who won the bronze medal at the Junior Worlds, dubbed 2018 as a tough year due to a couple of injuries that he suffered.
"It's been a tough year for me. I had to face two injuries and then come back. It was a great learning for me (and) a great junior performance this year. It was a tough year for me to come through the injury and play the tournaments," he said. "At the start of the year, I was out for two months due to a shoulder injury and, then, in the mid-season in July- August I had shin-splints, so I couldnt play for four weeks and couldnt compete in tournaments.
"At that time I had to wait and couldn't play much badminton and that was a tough time and I have come up well. (But) injuries are part of everyone's career," Sen said. He is set to focus in 2019 on strengthening his body to remain injury-free. "I think, it will be very important for me to get a good strength and conditioning part so that I stay remain injury-free and increase my stamina level, speed and my power for the senior tournaments because at the senior level it is much tougher than at the junior level.
"That will be the most important thing for me - to stay injury-free and work on my physique a lot," said Sen who is a trainee at the Prakash Padukone Academy in Bengaluru. Sen also said senior shuttler Ajay Jayaram helps him in every possible way. "We (me and Ajay Jayaram) have played in the same academy before. He always helps me with training and any kind of support," said Sen. Jayaram, on his part, heaped praise on the teenager. "Ive actually seen him (Lakshya) grow since the time he was 10 years old. He's definitely one of the biggest prospects India has in his age group.
"Hes proved himself at the world juniors, Olympics and at the Asian Badminton Championships. Even in the senior level, hes shown some spark. I've trained and practiced with him and definitely he is probably Indias biggest prospect. In my opinion, he can do great going ahead," said Jayaram. Asked specifically what set Lakshya apart in the junior circuit, Jayaram said, "It's his grit and mental strength that he exhibits on the court that I noticed even as a youngster. "He's a real fighter and he manages to hang in on the court, no matter what. And that sets him apart."
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