Over 1,000 young shuttlers of the country, including top seed Gayatri Gopichand, will vie for top honours at the All India Junior Ranking badminton tournament, which begins here on Tuesday. All eyes will be on the top seed in the Under-19 girls' singles category Gayatri Gopichand, daughter of India chief coach Pullela Gopichand.
The 16-year-old Hyderabadi, who has shown rare consistency and amazing temperament at this level, however, will have to keep a sharp eye on Chattisgarh's Aakarshi Kashyap. Both the shuttlers are highly talented and were part of the Asian Games contingent. But the duo will be extra keen to clinch the trophy here as the tournament doubles up as a selection ticket for the Junior Asian Badminton Championship in China two months later.
Besides, Malvika Bansod and Unnati Bisht are two other shuttlers to watch out for in the girls' singles. Top seed Priyanshu Rajawat of Madhya Pradesh will play a similar starring role in the Under-19 boys' singles category. But Manipur's Maisnam Meiraba will stand in Rajawat's way.
Sankar Muthusamy, a Chennai lad and a bronze medalist in last year's ABC, will also hope to repeat or better their performance here. Sai Charan Koya, Sathish Kumar K and Aakash Yadav will also enter the fray as seeds in the boys' singles and hope to pull off a few upsets over the next six days.
A total of 32 boys and girls have been given direct entries into the main draw while eight each in the three doubles categories -- boys, girls and mixed events. Manjit Singh Khwairakpam and Dingku Singh Konthoujam are the top seeds in the boys doubles, while Treesa Jolly and Varshini VS are seeded at the top in the girls section.
Navaneeth Bokka and Sahithi Bandi are the top seeds in the mixed doubles. Over 500 boys and 220 girls from different parts of the country will go through the qualifying rounds in the hope of making it to the main draw.