Gopi gets the champions; shuttlers love for a lifetime

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Olympic bronze for Saina Nehwal. Rio Games silver for PV Sindhu. K Sikanth’s surprise win over the all-time great Lee Chong Wei. German Open championship crown for HS Prannoy. B Sai Praneeth, the man to stun unarguably the world’s best-ranked player ever Lee Chong Wei.

If the long list makes you believe Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy (PGBA) at Hyderabad is only good at creating singles sensation, you are mistaken.

In doubles, it is love-all for many and partnerships are formed for a lifetime. There is no break point in commitment for these jodis, formed at the PGBA courts. Just like their Guru Gopichand, the singles icon who also met his match for the life, PVV Lakshmi, on the badminton court. Lakshmi represented India during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and the two got married in 2002.
B Sumeeth Reddy and Sikky Reddy are the latest at the PGBA to form a love-all match for life. The duo made it official earlier this month. They will tie the knot in December. 25-year-old Sumeeth is a doubles player and was part of the doubles team at the Rio Olympics. Sikki is also a doubles player.

Gopi’s academy has been a part of many doubles matches off the court. Sikki’s mixed doubles partner Pranaav Jerry Chopra tied the knot with Pradnya Gadre last month. Pranaav too plays doubles mostly and was part of the 2014 Asian Games team while his wife, 26-year-old Pradnya, is seen with Ashwini Ponappa for doubles matches.

Last January, 28-year-old Kerala’s Arun Vishnu and Arundhati Pantawane of Maharashtra, both from the PGBA, got married. Vishnu, employed with Indian Oil, has been representing India at the World Badminton Championship, Asian Games and other tournaments since 2009. Arundhati was part of India’s badminton team at the 2010 Asian Games.

Interestingly, the love-match at the academy is not just restricted to the players. Courtship for another youngster from the academy, Akshay Dewalkar has gone beyond the court. The doubles specialist has recently announced engagement with Ms Mridu Sharma, the Sports Authority of India psychologist who has been appointed at the academy to work with the shuttlers.

There seem to be more ‘match’ points. Don’t be surprised if you find that yet another wedding being celebrated which has its roots at the Gopichand academy.

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