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Top Indian shuttlers will descend upon Guwahati as the sprawling Assamese city is all set to welcome the Yonex-Sunrise 83rd Senior National Badminton Championships 2018-19 to be held from February 12. This is the first time the prestigious Nationals is coming back to the North-East since Guwahati last hosted it in 2010 and is in tune with the Badminton Association of India’s tireless attempts to spread the sport to every corner of the country. The badminton extravaganza will kickstart with the 74th Inter State-Zonals scheduled to be held from February 10-11. It will be followed by the individual competition from February 12, the draw of which will be conducted on Monday. The top 8 players, ranked below 50 in the BWF World Rankings in both men’s and women’s singles, will start directly from the pre-quarter-finals on completion of the Super Draw on February 14. In doubles, the top 4 teams within the top 50 will be placed in the quarter-finals. The singles draw will have 16 seeds while the maximum number of seeds in the doubles section will be eight. Defending champion Saina Nehwal and last edition’s runner-up PV Sindhu will be the biggest attractions on the women’s side. Nehwal will aim to continue her good form after triumphing at the Indonesia Masters as she sets her sights on conquering the Nationals for the fourth time. Former champions Sameer Verma, Parupalli Kashyap will be leading the charge on the men’s side. Youngster Lakshya Sen, who made it to the semi-finals in the previous edition, will be eager to make an impact after a stunning season in juniors that saw him winning medals from the World Junior Championships, Youth Olympics and Asian Junior Championships. The doubles category will see a host of rising talents getting a chance to battle it out with the best in the business. Government of Assam’s unconditional support has ensured the Senior Nationals will not only be a memorable tournament for the region; the local organizers, Assam Badminton Association has also roped in host of sponsors including Assam Tourism Development Corporation along with Star Cement, Dalmia Cement, Topcern Cement, BCPL, NRL, ITC, Eveready and Ajanta Pharma. BAI President, Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “Our goal has been to take the sports to all parts of the country so that the sporting enthusiasts can watch the stars and icons of the game, play live in action. Hosting the Senior Nationals in Guwahati will be a great experience for the local players as well as fans. I wish the players and the officials a great success.” Saina Nehwal too has been enthusiastic about the biggest domestic badminton event making its way back to the North-East. Having represented the North Eastern Warriors in the Premier Badminton League (PBL), the former World No. 1 has been keen to see the growth of the sport in the region. “I have represented the North Eastern Warriors in PBL this season however we did not play in North East. With the senior Nationals being hosted in Guwahati it will be a great opportunity to play in front of the North Eastern fans and am looking forward to the Championship,” said the shuttle superstar.