BADMINTON: Maiden title offers fresh hopefor Alwin Francis

KOCHI: Just a few months ago, Alwin Francis and Arun Vishnu were flying high in men’s doubles. The two, from Kerala, climbed to the top of the national doubles rankings and were looking ahead to make a bigger mark in the international circuit.
But, Malaysian Tan Kim Her, the new national doubles coach, thought otherwise. He broke up the country’s top-ranked duo and paired Alwin with Telangana’s Tarun Kona.
It takes years to strike a winning combination and Alwin, naturally, was worried.
However, the duo’s triumph in the Guatemala International Series on Sunday offers him fresh hope that he and Tarun could be a strong pair too.
Alwin and Tarun defeated Mexico’s top-seeded Job Castiloo and Lino Munoz 21-8, 21-14 in the final at Guatemala City.
“We started playing together three months ago, played three international tournaments and this is our first title… we have sort of settled down with each other,” said Alwin from Guatamela on Monday, a few hours before taking a flight to Peru for the next tournament.
“He is a front court player and I play at the back most of the time,” he added.
Surprisingly, this is also Alwin’s first International Series title. “I have played well in the bigger tournaments (with Arun Vishnu), won a bronze medal in a Grand Prix and finished runner-up in the Challenge tournaments.
“I had won some international tournaments before but they were invitation events… this is my first International Series title,” said Alwin, an FCI employee and the current Kerala State singles champion. Brazil, a bigger challenge
After Peru, the duo has tournaments in Brazil and Jamaica lined up.
“We will get 2500 points from the Guatemala International Series victory, but Brazil is an International Challenge and bigger than this,” said the 28-year-old, who was ranked No. 60 in the world during his partnership with Arun earlier. “The others are the same (like Guatemala).”
No Olympic dreams
However, despite the recent success, Alwin is not even dreaming of this year’s Rio Olympics.
“We’re too new for that, we have just started. Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy, who are currently world No. 20, have a very good chance of making it,” said Alwin, who hails from Kollappally in Pala.
“I think they have been playing together for the last four years.
“Probably, we can think of the next Olympics. But, we hope to get into the World’s top-50 after this series of tournaments.”