Priyanka, a 11th standard student of DAV Senior Secondary School, Mogappair, has since been a leading player in the junior section. She will be Tamil Nadu’s leading light in the under-17 section of the All India Junior Ranking Tournament that starts in Chennai next week.
What has given the 16-year-old Priyanka a lead over her competitors is that her parents have been supportive and she is now with the Fireball Academy where she undergoes rigorous training. “My father Subramanian took VRS from his government job last year to concentrate on his children’s career,” said Priyanka.
“Priyanka and Shankar played some 18 tournaments last year and I had to accompany them everywhere,” said Subramanian, a former Port Trust employee.
Priyanka, who started her badminton journey in the State championship at Coimbatore in 2013, won a medal in almost all sections. She won the Under-15 title in the State championship the next year in Dharmapuri and a week later, she added the under-17 title at Thoothukudi. She was also the runner-up in the Under-19 category.
Priyanka admitted that she had competition in her category and basically three girls offered resistance. “Winona and Nivetha of Coimbatore and Varshini of Madurai won the titles if I was not winning them,” said Priyanka of the fourway race in the State competitions.
Winona was a product of the Sparklers Academy in Coimbatore and incidentally her father owned the academy. “We have a synthetic court in our house on the first floor but it is basically for children in the lower age-group,” said Priyanka. There are about 20 who train at her place under her father.
Priyanka had partnered Nila of Kanyakumari when she won the doubles in Vizag. “But we could not continue playing together as she moved to the Gopichand academy (Hyderabad) soon,” said Priyanka, who is seeded No 11 in the Under-17 section in the country. She added Gopichand’s daughter Gayathri used to be the top seed in her category but she has now dropped to No 7.