Suhitha Maruri and Pranav Karthik, on Saturday, emerged singles champions at the ITF J4 event that was played on two surfaces across five venues in the city during the past week.
While the tournament was originally supposed to be held on the clay courts at the SDAT Stadium in Egmore, matches were also played on the clay courts at Madras Gymkhana Club and Anna University as well. Some fixtures, including the two singles and one doubles final, were moved to the hard courts at the Gandhi Nagar Club and the Powerpak Tennis Academy due to rain.
Girls’ Singles Final
Suhitha Maruri in action during the girls’ singles final at the ITF J4 event on Saturday.
Top seed Suhitha Maruri defeated second seed Madhurima Sawant 6-0, 3-6, 6-4 in a closely-contested summit clash.
While the scoreline may suggest that Suhitha cruised through the opening set, it was actually her Maharashtrian opponent who dictated most of the rallies. Standing close to the center of the baseline, Madhurima targeted both corners with her powerful forehand and backhand shots. Suhitha’s excellent retrieving skills though forced Madhurima to eventually hit one either too long or wide.
The defensive approach did cost the 16-year-old from Bengaluru in the second set as from 3-2 up, she lost four straight games. A double fault at 40-15 in the sixth game from Suhitha opened a window of opportunity for Madhurima, who upped the aggression by moving closer to the net and finishing points. After 3-all, the Pune girl, who trains at the Hemant Bendrey Tennis Academy, won 13 of the next 15 points to clinch the second set and force the decider.
The final set began with two long deuce games, both going the way of the top seed. The second one, in particular, was poor from Madhurima, who committed two consecutive double faults on game point. All four serves landed into the net. While Madhurima did get the break back in the next game, Suhitha followed it up by playing probably the two best games of the match for her. She hit some gorgeous forehand down the line return winners in the fourth and backed it up with a love hold in the fifth.
Suhitha, who trains under coach M Balachandran at the Rohan Bopanna Tennis Academy in Karnataka, went up by a double break at 5-1 as Madhurima, trying to save her fourth break point, committed yet another double fault.
At this point, with her devil-may-care attitude, Madhurima decided to hit the ball as hard as she could. Forcing Suhitha to one corner and then finding the forehand down the line winner on the other, the 16-year-old from Pune turned the match around.
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Serving at 5-3, Suhitha got her second time violation of the match at 30-40 and hence, a point penalty. Things were back on serve.
Suhitha decided to take a medical timeout and required some taping on her stomach. “It was hurting here (pointing to the spot) in the first round itself. I got this problem in the previous tournament (junior nationals). It was tiring to play for two weeks,” she said after the match.
Despite her rhythm being broken, Madhurima had the chance to make it 5-all at 40-30. However, Suhitha won the next three points to clinch her second singles title on the ITF junior circuit.
Boys’ Singles Final
“I didn’t have a clear strategy on what to do and I know he prefers hard court. He’s very good at directing the ball with his placement. So, I just tried to play my game and be aggressive,” said Pranav Karthik after winning the final.
Seventh seed Pranav Karthik won his maiden singles title on the ITF junior level with a convincing 6-4, 6-3 victory over sixth seed Rethin Pranav.
Pranav had lost to Rethin in straight sets at the recently held junior nationals. However on Saturday, Pranav had the upper hand with his booming first serves and one-handed backhand shots.
“I didn’t have a clear strategy on what to do and I know he prefers hard court. He’s very good at directing the ball with his placement. So, I just tried to play my game and be aggressive,” said Pranav, who trains at the Global Tennis Team Academy in Mallorca, Spain. The academy is led by Jofre Porta, who has worked with Carlos Moya and Rafael Nadal.
Karthik got the sole break of serve in the seventh game and held his own to seal the opening set.
The second set looked headed towards a 6-0 scoreline in Pranav’s favour as he kept hitting outrageous forehand down the line winners on Rethin’s first serve. Perhaps a bit nervous while serving for the title, Pranav committed only his second double fault of the match.
Rethin reduced the deficit to 3-5 but eventually lost the summit clash on his own serve as he hit a crosscourt backhand long in the ninth game.
Both Suhitha and Pranav won 60 ITF points while runners-up Madhurima and Rethin earned 36 points.
Asmi Adkar (left) and Saina Deshpande (right), girls’ doubles winner at the ITF J4 event in Chennai on Saturday.
In the girls’ doubles final, Asmi Adkar and her American partner Saina Deshpande defeated Rishitha Basireddy and Sohini Mohanty 6-4, 6-3.
The boys’ doubles title was won by Deep Munim and Dhananjay Athreya on Friday. Doubles winners got 45 points each, while losing finalists got 27 points.
Girls’ Singles Final
 Suhitha Maruri bt  Madhurima Sawant 6-0, 3-6, 6-4
Boys’ Singles Final
 Pranav Karthik bt  Rethin Pranav 6-4, 6-3
Girls’ Doubles Final
Asmi Adkar/Saina Deshpande (USA) bt Rishitha Basireddy/Sohini Mohanty 6-4, 6-3
Boys’ Doubles Final
 Deep Munim/Dhananjay Athreya bt Debasis Sahoo/Gagan Vimal 6-4, 5-7, [10-5]