Teen shuttler Unnati Hooda, 15, had an amazing 2022, but in order to achieve international success and follow in the footsteps of the likes of PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal, she needs to be consistent and injury-free, says India’s national coach Mohammed Siyadath Ullah Siddiqui.
Siyadath said Hooda is definitely one of the shuttlers to look out for in the women’s section. But others are equally good. “Right now, we do not have any shuttler who can be consistent and win titles in the Super 300, 500, 750 or 1000 in the women’s category. In Unnati’s batch, there are others like Malvika Bansod [World No.30], Aakarshi Kashyap [No.32], Anupama Upadhyaya [No.48], Ashmita Chaliha [No.44] and Tasnim Mir [No.54] who are equally good. But Unnati surely has the age advantage and was the find of last year. To become a champion, she needs to focus on being consistent and injury-free,” said the national coach.
In January 2022, Hooda, who has been training under Parvesh Kumar at the Chotu Ram Stadium in Rohtak since she the age of eight, was ranked 418th in the world and has achieved her target of reaching the Top 150 by the end of the year. She is currently ranked 137.
Mohammed Siyadath Ullah Siddiqui
Rohtak-based Hooda had a great start and finish to 2022. In January, she became the youngest Indian badminton player to win a BWF Super 100 World Tour title. She won the Odisha Open 2022 at the age of 14, beating Smit Toshniwal 21-18, 21-11 in the final. She was also runner-up at the India International Challenge. She ended the year by winning silver in the women’s singles U-17 at the Asia U-17 & U-15 Junior Championships 2022 in Nonthaburi, Thailand. She lost to Sarunrak Vitidsarn 18-21, 21-9, 14-21 in the final. She was also the youngest player in the Sindhu led- Indian Asian Games squad.
Also read: Shuttler Unnati Hooda creates history at Asia Junior Championships
Siyadath pointed out that the one quality that stands out in Hooda is her ambition to work hard. “I have seen her during the national camps [at Gopichand academy in Hyderabad] and she is a hardworking kid. She is good at her strokeplay, is powerful, has the fighting spirit, never give-up attitude and is talented too. But there are others who have talent, but it is the hard work which pays off in the long run. In order to prevent injuries, a player needs to be calculative and ensure that they do not push themselves. The most important thing that they need to learn is to back off. If they have had five weeks of rigorous training, they need to give their body that one week to let it recover well for the next challenges,” remarked Siyadath.