Ashmita Chaliha is a star in the making in Indian badminton and the 19-year-old lass is hailed as the next big name from the continent in the shuttle sport.
In Hong Kong China for the Badminton Asia Tong Yun Kai Cup Mixed Team Championships the 1.72m tall from Guwahati in Assam made many take note of her badminton talent although India failed to get past the group stage.
Sixth seeds India failed to advance to the knockout stage of the tournament after 3-2 defeats to Singapore and Chinese Taipei in Group B. India reached the quarter-finals in the inaugural mixed team championships in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam in 2017.
Chaliha won her match against Liang Ting Yu in the 3-2 defeat to No 4 seeds Chinese Taipei while she went down fighting 21-17, 12-21, 16-21 to Yeo Jia Min in the match against Singapore.
The left-handed Chaliha has broken into the senior ranks in India and was in the team to the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia last year.
With names like Saina Nehwal and P.V. Sindhu in the team, Chaliha did not get to play a match in Jakarta but the “experience of being with the big names” was motivating enough for her.
She made the Asiad squad after winning a senior ranking tournament which was used as the selection ground.
Hailed as the “next generation” of Indian women shuttlers Chaliha’s badminton idols are Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei, Tai Tzu Ying (Chinese Taipei) and not forgetting teammates Nehwal and Sindhu.
Known for her jumping smashes Chaliha won the Dubai International Challenge and the Tata Open International Challenge in Mumbai last year.
Having played for India in the World Juniors and Asian Juniors, Chaliha, – just like any others – has set her sights on playing in the Olympics and the World Championships (senior) apart from wanting to break into the top bracket in the world rankings.
Chaliha picked up the sport at the age of seven – thanks to her businessman father Dhruba Jyoti Chaliha, a former tennis player. Badminton took priority as the academy was nearer to her house in Guwahati.
According to her Indonesian coach Edwin Eriawan, who describes Chaliha as “fast on the court” the other plus factors in Chaliha’s game is the variety in her strokes and enthusiasm to succeed.
“It is still a long journey for me to reach the top. But I am enjoying my game and each tournament is learning experience for me in my bid to reach world-class standards,” said Chaliha. – Badminton Asia