Timely lesson for Lathika before final
Unseeded Lathika Premkumar used her lobs and soft touches tactfully to beat 16th seed Ishwari Seth of Maharashtra 6-2, 6-0 to make the final of the sixth Ramesh Desai Memorial National tennis championship at Cricket Club of India (CCI) tennis courts yesterday.
Lathika will face the tournament top seed Sathwika Sama of Andhra Pradesh, who got past third seed Kaaviya Balasubramaniam of Tamil Nadu 6-2, 6-2, in the under-12 category final.
But her journey to the final could have been halted abruptly in the quarter-final. As the umpire was just about to award the match to her opponent eighth seeded Shivani Ingle of Maharashtra, Lathika — who was late to reach the venue — showed up. “The quarter-final incident taught me a very important lesson about the value of time. I reached 20 minutes late for my singles quarter-final scheduled for 9.30 am. The confusion occurred as I had seen the previous day’s schedule, and was under the impression that my match was at 10.30 am. I was shocked when I saw the referee was just about to give a walkover to my opponent Shivani,” explained Lathika, who thrashed the eighth seed 6-0, 6-2 in the last eight encounter on Thursday. Earlier, in the pre-quarterfinal she stunned second seed Rutvi Shah of Gujarat.
Lathika considers Mumbai as her lucky venue. “The city has a special place in my heart. This is my first U-12 nationals and I reached the final here. Earlier, in March, I entered the finals of U-12 and U-14, but finished runners-up in the Championship series in Navi Mumbai,” said the Bhavans Rajaji Vidyashram student. Meanwhile, Rajasthan’s Udayan Bhakar and ninth seed Akshara Iska (AP) caused major upsets in U-16 boys’ and girls’ singles respectively. Akshara beat top seed Kamran Kaur 6-2, 4-6, 7-5, while Udayan defeated second seed Sachin Kumar
7-6 (3), 6-1.