A dogged Dhakshineshwar Suresh saved a match point in a tight final against Siddhant Banthia to emerge champion in the U-16 boys event while Salsa Aher hardly broke a sweat to claim the girls title in the Fenesta Open, the national tennis championship, here today. The lanky Dhakshineshwar from Tamil Nadu prevailed 5-7 7-5 7-6(1) over his rival from Maharashtra in a gruelling summit clash that lasted two hours and 35 minutes at the DLTA Complex. Left-handed Salsa of Maharashtra though hardly had to put up a fight as an out-of-sorts Prinkle capitulated to a 2-6 0-6 defeat in just 53 minutes. Dhakshineshwar combined his cool and calm composure with his fiery ground-strokes to tame Banthia. The Tamil Nadu boy showed a lot spark and hope for future with his victory over India's junior Davis Cupper and winner of United Kingdom's Under-14 national championship in 2014. While Banthia was tremendous in his court coverage and swift recovery to be ready for the next stroke, Dhakshineshwar, a class X student, stood out with his temperament. He never allowed pressure to seep in his game and kept fighting, taking it point by point. "I don't think about winning or losing when I play. I just fight hard.
I knew I can beat him," Dhakshineshwar, a class X student, said after the match. Dhakshineshwar was down a set and a break but broke Banthia in the fourth game to make it 2-2 in the second set. Again after being up 40-0 in the seventh game, he dropped serve in the seventh to trail 3-4 but broke back immediately to make it 4-4. It was a see-saw battle with the set littered with breaks. The tall Tamil Nadu player saved a breakpoint in the ninth and broke Banthia in the 12th to stretch the match to the deciding third set. He broke Banthia in the second game to take a 3-0 lead but lost next three games and match was again on an even keel. Banthia led 5-3 after breaking Dhakshineshwar in the seventh game and had a match point in the 10th game but the Tamil Nadu lad not only saved that point but broke his rival to make it 5-5. Despite the weather being extremely hot, the two players showed tremendous stamina and never dropped the intensity. Dhakshineshwar saved five breakpoints in a marathon 11th game, which he served out with an ace. It was now Banthia who was facing match points as he served a double fault at 15-30 in the 12th game but managed to come out unscathed with good serves. Eventually it was settled via tie-breaker in which the Tamil Nadu boy raced to a 5-1 lead. Banthia served another double fault to be down by a number of match points and hit a backhand to net to let Dhakshineshwar walk away with the win. The Under-14 boys singles trophy was won by Haryana's Ajay Malik, who defeated VM Sandip from Tamil Nadu 6-4 6-4. Punjab's Sarah Dev became the U-14 girls singles champion with a 6-1 4-6 6-3 win over Sharannaya Gware of Maharashtra.
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