x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Home comforts for Shibil

Backed by his contingent of home fans, the coach overpowers Moin Ahmed to win the men's singles and doubles titles at UAE Open Badminton Championship.

CP Shibil, at the back, and Rakesh Ramakrishnan, on their way to the men's doubles championships at the UAE Open last night. Shibil also won the men's singles.
CP Shibil, at the back, and Rakesh Ramakrishnan, on their way to the men's doubles championships at the UAE Open last night. Shibil also won the men's singles.

DUBAI // Backed by his contingent of home fans, CP Shibil overpowered Moin Ahmed to win the men's singles title at UAE Open Badminton Championship last night at the India Club. Shibil, who has been the badminton coach at the club for a year, breezed through the final 21-10, 21-6. "I am very, very excited," said Shibil, a 28-year-old from Kerala. "This is my first title for my club and winning at home is a special feeling. Back in India, I have represented my state team at the nationals, but this is different. It means a lot and I hope it is just the start of more to come."

He was backed by a vocal crowd of about 300 fans, many of them club members who turned out to support their coach. "This is home ground, so he had that advantage," said Ahmed, a Pakistani who lives in Abu Dhabi. He has won the men's title at the India Club twice and has a number of trophies in doubles and mixed doubles. He blamed his defeat on the slowness of the shuttles. "I was not getting my rhythm," Ahmed said. "I was trying to play a fast game, but the shuttle went very slow. So whatever I was doing, it was going in his hand. If I hit harder, it was going out. That's where I was losing my confidence.

"The shuttle was not suiting my game. With this shuttle, you have to play more rallies and I am not as fit as him." It was a good night for Shibil, who also won the men's doubles with Rakesh Ramakrishnan. Also yesterday, Sabahath Rizwana prevailed 21-14, 21-19 over Swathi Krishna to win the girl's Under 18 singles title. Xavier Raphel took home the men's veterans title with a 21-2, 21-11 win. Yesterday's matches concluded a tournament that started on May 31 and saw a record number of entries compete in 21 different categories.

"This year was too big for us actually," said AK Prakashan, one of the board of directors of the club's sports section. "We had 501 entries and 458 matches in total." He said the majority of the players were from India, but players from Pakistan, the Philippines, Iran, Singapore and Indonesia also competed. @Email:arizvi@thenational.ae