Local favourite and rising tennis star Manas Dhamne had every reason to rejoice on Saturday as he not only clinched the ITF Asian B1 Championships title but also became the youngest Indian to do so.
In a fitting finale of the week-long tournament at the Deccan Gymkhana, Dhamne blitzed past compatriot Aryan Shah to lift the boys’ trophy while Shruti Alhawat triumphed 6-1, 6-4 over Lily Taylor of Australia to clinch the girls’ singles title.The opening set of the boys’ singles final went down to the wire as both players held their serve, thus forcing a tiebreak.
In the tiebreak, Dhamne won crucial points off Shah’s serve to open up a 5-1 lead and eventually romping to a 7-4 win to clinch the opening set 7-6.
In the second set, Shah broke Dhamne’s serve in the very first game and built a healthy lead.
Dhamne, however, broke back in the fourth and tenth games, inching closer to the title. He eventually claimed the second set 6-4, clinching the title.
“I am very happy to win in my own city. What makes it more special is that I would be able to play the Australian Open next year. It was a very good final. I didn’t have any plans going into the final. He was serving very well and coming into the net, playing good volleys. I scored some crucial points in the first set, which helped me win it,” said Dhamne, who currently trains under Riccardo Piatti at the Piatti Tennis Centre.
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The girls’ final, which spanned an hour and 12 minutes, turned out to be a lopsided affair. It was Alhawat’s first run-in with Taylor in the ITF circuit, but she didn’t show any nerves going into the title clash. “I am really happy with the win as I worked really hard. I played solid from the start and I did nothing more than rely on my big serves. I also covered a lot of ground during the match. She was serving really well, too, even in the second set. So, I had to make sure that there wasn’t a drop in my intensity. I played my best,” said 16-year-old Alhawat, who is currently India’s number 1 at the U-18 level.