Event Section
Varuni ousts top-seed Shruti, Aishwarya topples No. 2 Payal


Agra, November 7: Aishwarya Pathak of UP caused the second biggest upset of the day as she decimated No. 2 seed and the West Zone titlist Payal Borha of Maharashtra to enter the Junior Girls quarterfinals in the LIC National Ranking (North Zone) Table Tennis Championships at the Eklavya Indoor Stadium here today.  


But what shocked the most was the exit of top-seed Shruti Amrute of Maharashtra. Shruti lost to Telengana’s Varuni Jaiswal, a qualifier, 14-12, 11-6, 11-9, without a fight.


However, in the bottom half the girl from Ghaziabad won 11-6, 11-4, 11-2 and would be taking on Payal’s state mate Mansi Chiplunkar in the quarterfinals tomorrow. Mansi accounted for seventh seed Maria Rony of Kerala, also in straight games of 11-9, 11-9, 11-7.


Others that made it to the last-eight stages included Telengana’s Sreeja Akula, AAI’s Ayhika Mukherjee, Maharashtra’s Rutuja Khopkar, who defeated Kerala’s fourth seed Sereha Jacob 11-6, 6-11, 14-12, 11-7 and TN’s Selenadeepthi Selvakumar who won a tough battle against Delhi’s Riti Shankar and eighth seed 11-9, 6-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-7.  


In Junior Boys, Dena Bank’s Peeyush Prasad who first upset seventh-seed Ayush Tayal of Haryana 3-2 in the pre-quarterfinals, moved a step further for a quarterfinal meeting with No. 2 seed Anirban Ghosh. The latter downed Birdie Bora of PSPBA in a tense encounter which saw four of the five games being extended. Ghosh won 7-11, 14-12, 12-14, 12-10, 14-12. Top-seed Utkarsh Gupta had an easy prey in PSPBA’s Anukram Jain as the Delhi boy won 14-12, 9-11, 11-4, 11-4.


The other pre-quarterfinal winners included West Bengal’s Jeet Chandra, who beat Air India’s Siddesh Pande 3-1, PSPBA’s Lalrin Puia, who downed Telengana’s Snehit Suravajjula, Sanish Ambekar of Maharashtra who won over Suresh Nikhil of Tamil Nadu 3-1 along with Manav Thakkar of PSPBA and Maharashtra’s Ravindra Kotiyan. Thjakkar beat Shivam Shrivastava 3-0 while Kotiyan beat Lalhunhlua of PSPBA by the same verdict.


Coming back to Aishwarya, the girl from the hosts’ state was definitely in her zone and it showed in her game plan against Payal. The Maharashtra girl, normally an attacking paddler, surprisingly couldn’t play her shots as well and was making far too many errors at the net. But credit must be given to Aishwarya who, after taking control of the first game, simply ran over her rival in double quick time.


Earlier, 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 for 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.


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.


The men’s top seeds enter the arena only tomorrow as they all have first-round byes in the main draw while the women’s singles have one more qualifying round to go before the main draw events begin. The day will also see the Junior Boys and Junior Girls medals being decided with their finals slated for late evening.