India's ace shuttler Ashwini Ponnappa on Wednesday announced the first ever exclusive women's doubles tournament in the country, Red Bull Shuttle Up.
With the growing popularity of the sport, be it viewership (fifth most viewed) or participation (second most played), the tournament aims to further boost and improve participation and popularity amongst aspiring women players.
Red Bull Shuttle Up qualifiers will be held across five cities -- Delhi, Bangalore, Guwahati, Hyderabad and Mumbai.
The winning pair gets an exciting opportunity to play against the best badminton doubles player in the country Ashwini Ponnappa and her partner.
Commenting on the development, Ponnappa said: "My dream is to create awareness and promote doubles badminton in the country. More job opportunities for doubles players, more exposure for tournaments, and prize money on par with singles will motivate youngsters to focus on doubles and take it up seriously.
"Things have definitely changed over the years, today's youngsters are definitely focusing and switching to doubles at a younger age. We now have specialist coaches just for doubles and that has helped improve the standards of play."
"There is a better understanding between partners and many youngsters are taking up doubles from an early age, which is a great sign. Many Indian doubles pairs have reached semi-finals and quarterfinals in previous tournaments, which is a clear indication that we are heading towards the right direction," The Red Bull athlete added.
Open exclusively for women above the age of 16, all matches will be played on the knock out basis where all pairs will play a best of 3 sets with 11 points (rally points) instead of the traditional 21 points a set.
As many as six pairs will qualify for the National Finals (first week of November) i.e the winners from each city (5 cities) and 1 lucky losing pair.
The lucky loser will be the pair that lost the finals but scored the maximum number of points in that match.
In case of 2 teams tied on the same number of points, the same from the previous round will be considered.