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Nikki and Zeel are National Tennis champions

Zeel Desai showed that age and fitness make a lot of difference in a big match.

SNS | New Delhi |

Nikki K Poonacha and Zeel Desai became national tennis champions in contrasting fashion at the Fenesta Open national tennis championship concluded in Delhi on Saturday.

Zeel Desai showed that age and fitness make a lot of difference in a big match.

In the final, Zeel played near flawless tennis against qualifier Sharmada Balu for a 6-3, 6-0 win.

The triumph brought her a prize money of Rs 3 lakhs. More important, to be crowned national champion after the resumption of sport after the Covid-19 pandemic, was a big plus.

Sharmada Balu played well over the last ten days. From the hard grind of winning qualifying matches to making the final, it was a great journey. In the end, she was defeated but not disgraced.

“Today, I played really well. Like, she (Sharmada) was also so much confident because she beat the second seed yesterday and she was playing really well in the first set. I maintained my composure, so I went through the first set and then second set I was much more solid, so she may have mentally broke down and I won,” said Zeel Desai.

In the men’s singles final, Nikki outlasted Digvijay Pratap Singh 3-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-4 in a match which brought the best out of the two players.

Digvijay started well in the first set, taking a lead by breaking early. However, Nikki, who was struggling with the range of his shots and timing, changed gears soon. He did lose the first set 3-6, but then started stroking with feel, the hard ground-strokes catching the eye.

The big challenge was the second set tie-break, where Nikki used good temperament and sealed it. In the final set, both the players were tired. Their legs were aching and the body may have been stiff.

To put mind over matter was important. Nikki showed that he is the top seed and came up with the big stuff when needed the most.

“It’s great to win the second time over here. Overall, my game was very shaky but I was holding in the second set and I pulled through it. In the third set, I think I played a very good game, I was holding up and I was confident. It turned out to be a very good day and very good game for me,” said Nikki. His effort also won him Rs 3 lakhs in prize money.