Morten Frost singles out Ashmita, Lakshya as next-gen champs

Four-time All England champion and former World No.1 Morten Frost, who will be working with the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy (PPBA) in Bangalore, has singled out the talents of Ashmita Chaliha and Lakshya Sen as those who caught his eye during the recent Guwahati Nationals.

Frost was at the Padukone-Dravid Centre for Sports Excellence, along with board members of Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ), who have facilitated the association between Frost and PPBA. He said he had always enjoyed watching young players.

"They are the fun to see, whether they have that kind of potential, that little bit of x-factor to perhaps make it into senior badminton and I saw a few there.

"There was a girl, from Guwahati, her name was Ashmita and I know she is very young, very raw, hasn't had any opportunity, hardly. But I still think she had a good game, she had really nice shots and good movement on the court. I feel that with her being given an opportunity to start playing international badminton, you never know what can happen."

On the men's side, Lakshya, who made the senior national final last week, was the "best prospect" for India according to Frost.

"He is a fairly complete player he can play all avenues, but he is still too inconsistent, he is still 17 years old."

Frost's coaching assignment with PPBA is initially for a two-year period, with a commitment of 90 days a year with the academy. "My job here is to look after a group of players and help them from the very difficult transition from juniors badminton to seniors badminton. It's all about making that transition and it's not easy."

As national coach with Denmark, Malaysia (twice) and South Africa (once), Frost said that while playing styles were fairly uniform worldwide, the coach's most important role in modern badminton was to first identify a player's distinct playing style.

"Then you try to optimise it. You can't get a stroke player to be a hard-hitting player and so on but you have to find a way of playing that suits a particular person and so it's all about looking at that individual."

Frost addressed the media along with OGQ board members Padukone and former world chess champion Viswanathan Anand, as well as PPBA head coach Vimal Kumar.