Vijayawada, September 12: Anthony Amalraj had to really put up a fight to win the season’s first men singles title as an enterprising Sudhanshu Grover’s fine run at the 11Sports National Ranking (South Zone) Table Tennis Championships came to an end at the DRM Municipal Indoor Hall here today.
The women singles crown went the way of Sutirtha Mukherjee, who scored a come-from-behind victory of 4-3 over Railways’ Sagarika Mukherjee, also her first title for the season.
Amalraj, who won 4-2, made a good use of several seeds falling by the wayside before the final and captialised on the chance that came his way. But, it was not going to be easy against a spirited Sudhanshu, also from the PSPB, who had some fantastic wins in the tournament.
Amalraj, who led 3-1, was given a momentary jolt by Sudhanshu before the veteran former national champion came into his own to wrap it up. The victory also earned him Rs. 77,000 in prize money and full 90 points.
The Haryana girl must be given credit for the way she fought her way back in the summit clash and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Sagarika was leading 3-0 in what a pedestrian final, Sutirtha upped the ante in the fourth game, with some good attacks and it worked to her advantage. On the other hand, Sagarika was repeating the mistakes of Sutirtha and could not keep the ball on table.
Sutirtha, who won her first title of the season, kept mounting pressure and the Railways girl succumbed. Probably, the energy-sapping humidity might have added to the problems but Sutirtha kept her cool to emerge winners and carry home Rs. 66,000 for her wonderful efforts.
Manav, the winner
Railways’ Shruti Amrute escaped an imminent defeat against Sreeja Akula of RBI, winning the final 4-3 to wear the Youth Girls crown, while Manav Thakkar added yet another Youth Boys title to his young career. He defeated Delhi’s Parth Virmani 4-0, taking just 20 minutes.
After having squandered the chance in men singles—he bowed out in the quarterfinals—Manav couldn’t have returned home empty-handed. The intensity was visible as his sharp backhands and the occasional forehands, equally powerful, could not be averted by Path. In the end, it turned out to be a mis-match with Manav laughing his way to bank with a prize purse of Rs. 30,800.
Left is right
Sreeja Akula was 1-3 and it looked as if the left-hander Shruti was just a game away from her maiden title-triumph. But the RBI girl wriggled out of the rut she was in and took the fifth and six games after having played an extended fourth game. Taking the issue to the decider, Sreeja should have romped home winners at 10-8. But she allowed the left-hander to deuce first and then save a match-point at 10-11 and then outwit her RBI rival, claiming the last three crucial points in what was a cliffhanger and Rs. 26, 400, the winner’s prize money.
When Amalraj gets going it’s very difficult to stop him. This thought must have dawned on Ananth Devarajan, who messed it all up at 7-4 in the fourth game, just short of taking a cozy 3-1 lead, to allow the PSPB paddler level 2-2. That was the lifeline he needed as he stopped Ananth at that score and after that a transformed Amalraj just exploded to enter the final.
Ananth, a bright young prospect, played superbly on the day and had been consistent throughout. Perhaps overawed by the occasion and an opponent who has a reputation for staging comebacks to face, the Tamil Nadu boy let Amalraj off the hook. What went in his favour was the several service winners, especially in the sixth, which brooked no challenge from Ananth who lost a golden opportunity of making it to his maiden final.
Earlier, Sudhanshu Grover entered the final beating AAI boy Sushmit Sriram. The latter, who did all the correct things until the semifinals, was more error-prone and let his rival to dominate things. It helped his PSPB rival so much that he feasted on the chances to enter his first men singles final.
Archana gives up
In women singles semifinals, Sutirtha Mukherjee had a tough opponent in PSPB’s Archana Kamath who did well to stretch the second seed. But in the decider, the Haryana girl was simply unplayable as she drove well and used the flanks smartly to beat Archana. So strong was Sutirtha in the decider that young Archana managed just a couple of points.
Sagarika Mukherjee, riding on her fine form in the tournament, stopped Mousumi Paul very early in their semifinals as the PSPB paddler succeeded to take a game off her before giving it on a platter to the Railways girl.
In Youth Boys semis, Manav had a relatively easy outing against Ronit Bhanja of AAI, while Parth Virmani struggled before overcoming a determined Siddhesh Pande from Maharashtra 4-3. In Youth Girls, Shruti Amrute beat Selenadeepthi Selvakumar of AAI 4-1 and Sreeja Akula downed Shrushti Haleangadi of Maharashtra in straight games.
Men Singles (Finals): Anthony Amalraj (PSPB) bt Sudhanshu Grover (PSPB) 11-9, 11-13, 11-9, 11-4, 6-11, 11-6; (Semi-finals): Sudhanshu Grover bt Sushmit Sriram (AAI) 11-9, 9-11, 11-9, 5-11, 11-6, 11-5; A. Amalraj (PSPB) bt Ananth Devarajan (TN) 4-11, 7-11, 11-3, 11-9, 11-9, 11-6.
Women Singles (Finals): Sutirtha Mukherjee (Har) bt Sagarika Mukherjee (RSPB) 7-11, 8-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-3, 11-7, 11-4.
(Semi-finals): Sagarika Mukherjee bt Mousumi Paul (PSPB) 11-9, 6-11, 11-7, 12-10, 11-4, Sutirtha Mukherjee bt Archana Kamath (PSPB) 11-7,11-13, 11-13, 11-9, 11-5, 6-11, 11-2.
Youth Boys Singles (Finals): Manav Thakkar (PSPB) bt Parth Virmani (Del) 11-4, 11-5, 11-6, 11-4; Semi-finals: Manav Thakkar bt Ronit Bhanja (AAI) 11-5, 6-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-4, Parth Virmani bt Siddesh Pande (Mah) 6-11, 11-7, 13-11, 6-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-9.
Youth Girls Singles (Finals): Shruti Amrute (RSPB) bt Akula Sreeja (RBI) 11-9, 12-14, 11-9, 14-12, 6-11, 9-11, 13-11; Semi-finals: Shruti Amrute (RSPB) bt Selendeepthi Selvakumar (AAI) 7-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-9, 11-7; Sreeja Akula bt Srushti Haleangadi (Mah) 12-10, 11-7, 11-8, 11-6.
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