Event Section
Haryana's Ayush upset, Aishwarya Pathak keeps UP hopes alive


Agra, November 7: Dena Bank’s Peeyush Prasad toppled seventh-seed Ayush Tayal of Haryana 3-2 in the Junior Boys category to enter the pre-quarterfinals of the LIC National Ranking (North Zone) Table Tennis Championships at the Eklavya Indoor Stadium here today. In contrast, all top eight seeds moved into the pre-quarterfinals without a hiccup.


But for this lone upset, all the other seeds moved into the last-16 stage. UP’s Goutam Druvansh, after putting up a great fight lost 2-3 to Snehit Suravajjula in the first round. The lone main draw entrant from the hosts played well taking two games off his Telengana rival but wilted under pressure 10-12, 11-8, 8-11, 13-11, 9-11 in front of the home crowd.


In fact, the Telengana boy had the upper hand when he won the extended first set 12-10. Executing his forehand well the fleet-footed UP boy showed a lot of promise to begin with as he gave some torrid moments to Snehit. However, the latter clinched the set only to lose badly in the second.


The trend continued as Goutam won a difficult fourth set 13-11 after a couple of deuces but could not withstand the strain of decider as he folded by a minimal point.


The other match that kept everyone interested was the one between third seed Sanish Ambekar and Delhi’s Virmani Parth which the former won 3-2. The Delhi boy led 2-1 but the lad from Maharashtra pulled back to tie the match score 2-2. But Parth was unable to cope with the onslaught from the third seed to bow out meekly in the fifth 11-7, 6-11, 11-8, 10-12, 4-11.


PSPB Acdemy’s Anukram Jain, drawn in the first half, was also extended by another Dena Bank paddler, Hemant Verma. Jain, after a pathing first game, recovered well to beat Verma 1-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-5, 11-7.


Top-seed Utkarsh Gupta, the East Zone titlist at Durgapur, second-seed Anirban Ghosh sailed into the pre-quarters but won in straight games against Shaurya Pednekar of Maharashtra and second-seed Anirban Ghosh conceded a game before regrouping himself to beat Harshavardhan Lahoti of Telengana 15-17, 11-4, 11-5, 11-3.


Naina Jaiswal, who is seeded here No. 5 after her fine performer as a qualifier in the East Zone event, was still doing the catching up with Shrushti Haleangadi of Maharashtra. It is another matter that the No. 5 seed survived winning her match 11-8, 11-5, 7-11, 9-11, 11-8.  Similarly, Harsha Vardhini from the Airports Authority of India struggled against another qualifier from West Bengal Prapti Sen. The AAI girl won 7-11, 12-10, 11-5, 9-11, 11-3.


But the Gandhidham finalist Seraha Jacob from Kerala and seeded fourth had to up the level of her game after beind down 0-2 against Delhi’s Ishita Gupta. The Delhi qualifier was comfortably placed until the third from where Seraha upped the ante to beat her rival 7-11, 10-12, 11-9, 11-6, 11-5.


Aishwarya Pathak kept UP’s hopes alive in the main draw with the first round 11-7, 11-9, 11-8 win over Delhi’s Sristhi Gupta. The UP qualifier hardly had to sweat against the Delhi girl despite a good match for her.


All the pre-quarterfinals are scheduled for later tonight while in the men’s singles the qualifiers get to play their first round of the main draw even as the top-ranked players make their appearances only tomorrow.