Greater Noida, November 1: Manav Thakkar proved to be the only shining example from among the 56-member Indian squad that took part in the 2017 ITTF World Junior Circuit India Junior and Cadet Open (Premium), which concluded at the Gautam Buddha University Hall here today.
The bespectacled boy from Surat not only lived up to his top billing but also the No. 1 spot he is currently holding on in the World Junior Circuit Standings in his category. Manav defeated Singapore’s Yew En Koen Pang, who is seeded No. 8, 4-1 in the Junior Boys singles final to give the only singles gold medal.
All other gold offerings went the visitors’ way as Maki Shiomi from Japan took home the Junior Girls crown, Yew En Koen Pang won the Cadet Boys final and Lee Dagyeong of Korea won the title in Cadet Girls.
Of course, the Hopes Boys and Girls gold, silver and bronze medals stayed with India, except for one bronze medal going to Sri Lanka’s Pitiyage Silva in an event meant to encourage young players.
Manav took a 2-0 lead straightaway before the Singapore boy came back in the third to pull one back. But then the Indian kept his rival engaged and exploiting his backhand did well to push him back all the time. The two played and attacked well, including indulging in long rallies with Manav having a distinct 4-1 advantage.
"I was confident from the very beginning that if I can counter him with passive attacking game I can win. He is attacking by nature and the only way to overcome was to return to his weak backhand. He is a very good forehand player and my ploy of pushing him away from the table paid off," said Manav after the win.
Earlier, he added a doubles gold in the company of Manush Shah in what was an Indian show.
The Japanese was cruising along nicely with a 3-0 lead and that was when her opponent, seeded way behind at No. 22, launched her attack which unsettled the top-seed a bit as the Korean won the fourth game rather easily. However, in the fifth, the Japanese ran away with a 6-2 lead but the determined Korean recovered to level the score, first at 8-8 and then 10-10. A timeout at 11-10 helped the Japanese as she, returning to the table, varied her service and paid dividends and the match point came her way when Yoo sent her deep return out.
''I was getting frustrated when I allowed her (Yoo) to level the score. I played really bad in the fourth game. But the timeout helped as my coach advised me to go for service variation,” said the Japanese after her win.
Both Cadet sections gold went the way of visitors as Yew En Koen Pang of Singapore defeated Lalremruata Alberto of India 3-1 and Lee Dagyeong of Korea downed India’s Vanshika Bhargava in straight games for the crown.
In doubles finals, Manav and Manush took away the gold beating compatriots Raegan Albuquerque and Subh Goel 3-0 and the Korean girls defeated Indian pair of Manushree Patil and Prapti Sen 3-0 with ease.
The difference was palpable. The visitors, so easily succumbed in team events, had a new script for singles as was evident from the semifinal outings. Singapore’s Yew En Koen Pang in Junior Boys, Maki Shiomi of Japan, who is competing only in singles, and Yoo Siwoo of Korea and moved into the final with complete control of the proceedings.
The Singapore boy also ensured his entry into the final in the Cadet section, proving yet again the point that what matters to them is the individual events where ranking points are awarded.
As for the Indians, Manav Thakkar easily accounted for compatriot Manush Shah 4-0 while both Indians—Surbhi Patwari, who sent Archana Kamath packing yesterday in the pre-quarterfinals, and Yashini Sivashankar, who upset second seed Thai Jinnipa Sawettabut, bowed out with mere bronze medals. Surbhi went down 0-4 against top-seed Maki Shiomi while Yashini managed to take a game off Yoo Siwoo as the latter won 4-1.
In Cadet Boys, Lalremruata Alberto put it across compatriot H. Jeho 4-0 to earn a final meeting with Pang, who beat other Indian, Yashansh Malik, in straight games. In Cadet final, Vanshika Bhargava defeated Munmun Kundu for a final showdown with Korean Lee Dagyeong, who downed Mihika Rohia, also of India.
The Hopes event, which is meant to encourage young paddlers, turned out to be an Indian show with fewer participants like Sri Lanka, USA, Nepal. Hence, it was not surprising that Preyesh Suresh Raj and Divyansh Srivastava meeting each other in Hopes Boys final. In Hopes Girls, Suhana Saini and Kavyashree Baskar get an opportunity to have a shot at the title.
Junior Boys: Final: Manav Thakkar (IND) bt Yew En Koen Pang (SGP) 11-8, 11-7, 8-11, 11-6, 11-6; Semifinals: Manav Thakkar bt Manush Shah (IND) 11-9, 11-5, 11-5, 11-4; Yew En Koen Pang bt Yanapong Panagitgun (THA) 11-6, 10-12, 11-7, 11-8, 11-8.
Doubles: Final: Manav Thakkar-Manush Shah (IND) bt Raegan Albuquerque-Subh Goel (IND) 11-6, 11-8, 11-8.
Junior Girls: Final: Maki Shiomi (JPN) bt Yoo Siwoo (KOR) 11-8, 11-2, 11-8, 3-11, 12-10; Semifinals: Maki Shiomi bt Surbhi Patwari (IND) 11-7, 11-7, 11-5, 11-6; Yoo Siwoo bt Yashini Sivasankar (IND) 11-8, 8-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-6.
Doubles: Final: Lee Dagyeong-Lee Seungmi (KOR) bt Manushree Patil-Prapti Sen (IND) 11-7, 11-6, 11-7.
Cadet Boys: Final: Yew En Koen Pang (SGP) bt Lalremruata Alberto (IND) 8-11, 11-3, 11-4, 11-6; Semifinals: Yew En Koen Pang bt Yashansh Malik (IND) 11-2, 12-10, 11-5; Lalremruata Alberto bt H. Jeho (IND) 12-10, 11-13, 11-8, 11-7.
Cadet Girls: Final: Lee Dagyeong (KOR) bt Vanshika Bhargava (IND) 11-6, 11-9, 11-7; Semifinals: Vanshika Bhargava bt Munmun Kundu (IND) 11-7, 11-4, 11-8; Lee Dagyeong bt Mihika Rohira (IND) 11-4, 11-5, 11-7.
Hopes Boys: Final: Preyesh Suresh Raj (IND) bt Divyansh Srivastava (IND) 12-10, 8-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-9; Semifinals: Preyesh Suresh Raj bt Pitiyage Silva (SRI) 11-7, 11-9, 11-4; Divyansh Srivastava bt Arnag Aggarwal (IND) 11-9, 11-4, 11-9.
Hopes Girls: Final: Suhana Saini (IND) bt Kavyashree Baskar (IND) 11-4, 11-3, 11-4; Semifinals: Suhana Saini bt Nehal Venkatasamy (IND) 12-10, 11-5, 11-3; Kavyashree Baskar bt Pritha Vartikar (IND) 13-11, 11-9, 12-10.