Alappuzha, November 27: Telangana denied a complete Maharashtra Day in Kerala. The girls from the state that was newly carved out of the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, beat Maharashtra A to win their maiden crown with a 3-1 verdict but Maharashtra’s boys outplayed Delhi with a 3-0 triumph in the finals of the 76th Junior National and Youth Table Tennis Championships at the SDV Centenary Auditorium here today.
If Maharashtra had taken quite a long period to win a junior boys’ team title, having won it way back in the nineties, the credit should go to the Telagana girls celebrated success in their first attempt.
If Ravindra Kotiyan was the difference between Maharashtra and Delhi, the little girl Sreeja Akula, who is part of the four-member Indian team for the World Junior Championships at Shanghai, was distinctly the star player for Telagana to shape the victory. She not only won both her singles but also combined well to win the doubles while Maharashtra’s No. 1 player Shruti Amrute could not produce that kind of a performance.
Sreeja, who had to get a massage for her pain in the elbow, played a stellar role after being down 0-2 in the match against Payal Bohra. That win upper her confidence to a new level and from there she never looked back.
Timeouts, when cleverly taken, can make or break a team’s fortunes. In fact, a timely timeout proved to be game changer for Telangana in the Junior Girls semifinals as Naina, rising like a Phoenix from the ashes, helped her team beat Kerala 3-2 to enter the final. In the other semifinal, Maharashtra’s A squad beat Maharashtra B 3-1.
Kerala, down 0-2, put up a brave fight when Seraha Jacob and Maria Rony won the crucial doubles against Sreeja Akula and Naina. Then Maria beat a visibly uncomfortable Sreeja in reverse singles to give Kerala a realistic chance of reaching the final. Seraha Jacob almost accomplished the task but team coach M. Venugopal asking for timeout when Naina was lealding 6-5 after being down 2-5, proved to be to Telangana’s advantage.
Yet, Seraha down 2-7 narrowed down the lead to come close at 6-7. That was when Kerala coach called for timeout and the game changed for the worst as an attacking Seraha went into her shell with forehand deserting her at crucial junctures. Naina seized the opportunity and went all out to post the win.
If Kerala girls suffered at the hands of Telangana, title-holders PSPB made blunders with Birdie Boro having to play three matches, including the doubles as they they went down to Maharashtra A 2-3 in the Junior Boys semifinals. The experienced Boro came a cropper and it took a heavy toll on the PSPBA boys as Ravindra Kotiyan’s superb display clinched the issue for the winners.
In the other match, Delhi simply ran over West Bengal with Utkarsh Gupta and Himanshu Jindal doing a fine job. However, the Delhi pair lost their doubles but Utkarsh made up for it by winning his reverse singles too.
The junior girls singles finals are also slated for the day as the Indian girls will be leaving for New Delhi tomorrowmorning to board the flight to Shanghai the day after.
Junior Boys: Team Final: Maharashtra A bt Delhi 3-0 (Ravindra Kotiyan bt Utkarsh Gupta 12-10, 11-5, 12-10, Sanish Ambekar bt Shivan Shrivastava 13-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-6, Ravindra/Sanish bt Shiven Banga/Shivam 11-3, 11-8, 11-6);Semifinals: Delhi bt West Bengal 3-1 (Utkarsh Gupta bt Hirakjyoti Kushilal 11-7, 12-10, 7-11, 11-3, Himanshu Jindal bt Abhimanyu Mitra 9-11, 12-10, 8-11, 11-9, 11-4, Utkarsh/Himanshu lost to Hirakjyoti/Souvik Bannerjee 12-10, 11-5, 13-11, Utkarsh Gupta bt Abhimanyu Mitra 11-4, 11-4, 6-11, 11-5); Maharashtra A bt PSPBA 3-2 (Sanish Ambekar bt Birdie Boro 12-10, 6-11, 11-4, 11-8, Ravindra Kotiyan lost to Lalrinpuia 8-11, 11-6, 5-11, 14-12, 10-12, Sanish/Ravindra bt Manav Thakkar/Boro 7-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-9, 12-10, Sanish Ambekar lost to Lalrinpuia 8-11, 8-11, 8-11, Ravindra Kotiyan bt Birdie Boro 11-9, 13-11, 11-8).
Junior Girls: Team Final: Telangana bt Maharashtra A 3-1 (Naina lost to Shruti Amrute 11-13, 6-11, 7-11, Sreeja Akula bt Payal Bohra 9-11, 4-11, 11-7, 12-10, 11-4, Naina/Sreeja bt Shruti/Ashlesha Trehan 11-6, 11-2, 11-2, Sreeja Akula bt Shruti Amrute 11-5, 9-11, 11-4, 11-9); Semifinals: Maharashtra A bt Maharashtra B 3-1 (Ashlesha Trehan lost to Srushti Halengadi 8-11, 10-12, 9-11, Shruti Amrute bt Manasi Chhajed 10-12, 6-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-8, Ashlesha/Shruti bt Manasi/Srushti 11-8, 12-10, 12-14, 3-11, 11-7, Shruti Amrute bt Srushti Halengadi 11-8, 13-15, 11-5, 11-6); Telangana bt Kerala 3-2 (Reeja Akula bt Seraha Jacob 6-11, 13-15, 11-8, 11-9, 11-2), Naina bt Maria Rony 8-11, 6-11, 13-11, 11-7, 14-12, Reeja/Naina lost to Seraha/Maria 5-11, 15-13, 6-11, 11-9, 5-11, Sreeja Akula lost to Maria Rony 11-8, 7-11, 9-11, 12-14, Naina bt Seraha Jacob 8-11, 5-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-8).
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