New Delhi, February 18: Reigning national champion Sourabh Verma has appealed for financial help, which will enable him to play more international tournaments in order to improve his current world ranking.
The 26-year-old had burst into the scene with his first senior national title in 2011 but over training led to frequent break downs, which stopped him from playing tournaments consistently. It affected his ranking as from a career-best ranking of 30 in 2012 he now finds himself at 55.
"I don't have financial support to play international tournaments. Now due to the new rule, only top 25 players are getting financial help from BAI. That led to my international exposure being reduced and hence my ranking slipped," Verma lamented during an interaction.
He said that BAI did sponsor him for the Dutch Open but he needs more funding. "Of course, Dutch was financed by BAI after my performance in two domestic events but if I get financial support, I can do well," he said.
"I need to play at least 10-12 tournaments to get more ranking points. I had a knee problem last year, which I had to take care by myself. I am playing tournaments on my own. As a player, it becomes a big burden if you have to manage all by yourself," he said.
Verma said that he had to even pay for all his travel arrangements for his next two tournaments -- Swiss Open and Orleans Open. "I will be playing Swiss Open and Orleans Open next after Barcelona Masters. I have paid for my visa and financing everything (hotel and travel) all by myself. So I don't have much option to play bigger tournaments," he reasoned.
Last year, Sourabh recovered from a shoulder injury to win two Super 100 titles at the Russia Open and Dutch Open and clinched his third Senior National title at Guwahati last week. "After 2017, I had frequent injuries due to training overload. So I worked on my body and now I am more aware about the play-rest balance," said Sourabh, who will start his international season at the Barcelona Spain Masters, starting with the qualifiers on Tuesday.
"I also had a knee issue and I wasn't playing too many events. Now I'm stressing on fitness. I am looking at quality (of tournaments) and not quantity. I know if I can take care of my body, I can win tournaments," said Sourabh, who will start his campaign in the second round qualifiers after his first-round opponent Lu Guangzu withdrew.
Sourabh had clinched his maiden international title at Bahrain International Challenge in 2013, before claiming the TATA Open. The Madhya Pradesh shuttler stitched a string of title wins at Iran Fajr and Austrian International, besides a runners-up at Malaysia Masters GPG in 2014.
Despite the injury setbacks, he had a good year in 2016, when he won the Chinese Taipei Masters, besides securing runners-up finishes at Bitburger Open, Polish International and Belgian International. He also claimed his second senior nationals in 2017, beating Lakshya Sen in the finals.
Lakshya Sen, who finished runners-up at Guwahati after losing to Sourabh again, will also play at Barcelona Spain Masters -- his first international tournament of the season in a year where he is making his transition into senior from junior.
The 17-year-old from Uttarakhand, who is a Asian Junior Champion and a bronze medallist at the world junior championship, will have to play at the qualifiers to make his way to the main draw.
Among others, former Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap and Ajay Jayaram will begin against Hong Kong's Wong Wing Ki Vincent and Malaysia's Cheam June Wei respectively. SaarLorLux Open champion Subhankar Dey, who was defeated by Mumbai's Harsheel Dani at the Nationals, will play a qualifier in the opening round.
National championship silver medallists Arjun MR and Ramchandran Shlok will take on Korean eighth seed Kim Won Ho and Seo Seung Jae, while Krishna Prasad Garaga and Dhruv Kapila face France's Christo Popov and Toma Junior Popov in another men's doubles match.
Women's doubles pair of Pooja Dandu and Sanjana Santosh and mixed doubles combination of Venkat Gaurav Prasad and Juhi Dewangan are also in the fray.