• New Delhi, July 28 (IANS) Ace Indian women’s doubles shuttler Ashwini Ponnappa on Friday stressed upon the importance of having more doubles events at the grassroot level to develop a good bench strength for the country.

    Speaking to IANS at the national final of PNB Metlife junior championship, the 27-year-old expressed surprise that the tournament did not have any doubles event, which she hoped will be there in the near future.

    “While the focus is on singles, people also need to understand the importance of having doubles tournaments to increase the bench strength for the global tournaments. At present, we only have a handful of shuttlers who are focussed on doubles,” said Ashwini, who was the chief guest of the event.

    “To have more players, the focus needs to be on the grassroot level. It’s great to see these kids getting a great opportunity at the PNB Metlife championship but I was a bit surprised to learn that there are no doubles events. 

    “Hopefully the doubles event are included in the next edition,” she added.

    The third season of the tournament saw 7,000 young shuttlers, divided into five age groups — Under-9, 11, 13, 15 and 17 categories, participated across India through these eight cities — New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Indore, Lucknow and Jamshedpur.

    Commenting on the event, Sameer Bansal, Director Bancassurance and Interim CMO, PNB MetLife, said: “Three years ago, PNB MetLife strengthened their proposition ‘physical fitness is equal to fiscal fitness’ under the umbrella brand of PlayForHappiness.”

    “I am delighted to share that as a brand, which values health, wellness and encourages family time and teamwork, we have been taking up the cause of badminton in a big way,” he added.

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    The IANS was founded by Indian American publisher Gopal Raju as the India Abroad News Service. It was later renamed the Indo-Asian News Service.

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