When it comes to doubles in Indian badminton, Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa are expected to rule the roost. The pair reunited after the Indian Badminton League (IBL) and will grace the Cricket Club of India courts for the Tata Open India International Challenge on Thursday.
The only worry for Ponnappa is that they did not get enough tournaments together. “Though I am very excited to play with Jwala, we have not had enough matches to practice. We only played a couple of games (Bitburger Open, Germany),” she said. “Tata Open will provide us that opportunity. We will know where we stand and what needs to be worked on.”
The 24-year-old Ponnappa praised Gutta for the way she handled herself during the recent tough times. “Out of the two games we played after getting back, one was before what Jwala went through. But she’s a strong girl,” she said. One positive aspect was their co-ordination during the Bitburg Open. “We were actually surprised. Even without practice, we could judge our movements.We realised that the fire was still there. It felt good,” said Ponnappa.
Coach John doubts Gutta’s commitment
Coach Tom John believed that both Gutta and his ward Ponnappa need to realise that they have to get back to the top 15-20 in the world. He also questioned Gutta’s commitment. “Jwala’s commitment is an issue. She has many other talents she might want to pursue – music and films. She has to decide as you cannot do all other things and also play badminton. If Jwala is serious and gets professional training, nobody can stop her. You have to be fit and move around the court,” he said.