Guwahati, September 26: Two women seeds, including No. 4 Divya Deshpande, fell by the way in the women singles round of 32 as AAI’s Kaushani Nath emerged a worthy 4-1 winner on the second day of the 11Sports National Ranking (East Zone) Table Tennis Championships at the R.G. Barua Sports Complex’s Indoor Stadium here today.
Following Divya’s footprints, Sagarika Mukherjee, No. 6 seed, went down 1-4 to Dena Bank’s Senhora D’Souza while the other seeds had a smooth sailing into the pre-quarterfinals.
Divya was absolutely pedestrian this evening against a rampaging Kaushani, a qualifier, who had accounted for Sweta Parte of RBI in the round of 64, with a 4-0 win. Carrying that confidence into the match, she toyed with the Institutional champion and led 3-0 before Divya winning a game on extended points. But Divya, despite her best of efforts in the fifth game, could not overcome the Kaushani charge. The AAI girl won 11-2, 11-6, 13-11, 11-13, 11-9.
At the other end of the hall, sixth seed Sagarika could not match the guile of Senhora who lost her first game narrowly. However, she shifted gear and simply punished the Railways player, who was the finalist in the South Zone championships at Vijayawada. In fact, consistency was her big problem and coupled with the unforced errors, the Dena Bank girl was all over her rival, winning the match 10-12, 11-6, 11-4, 11-9, 11-8.
Earlier, all top 16 seeds in men and eight in women sailed into the round of 32, winning their singles. Top-seed Manav Thakkar disposed off Shubham Ambre of Maharashtra 11-8, 11-5, 11-5, 11-7 to sound a warning to the rest of the title contenders, including South Zone winner Anthony Amalraj, who beat Delhi’s Aadarsh Om Chhetri 1-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-5, 11-6.
Seventh seed Anirban Ghosh and 11th seed Jeet Chandra had the toughest matches and Anirban just escaped by the skin of his teeth to beat qualifier from West Bengal, Neeldeep Das, 15-17, 11-5, 8-11, 11-6, 11-9, 10-12, 11-7 in a marathon that lasted 45 minutes. On the other hand, Haryana’s Jeet Chandra pulled it off in the nick of time to win 11-9, 7-11, 11-5, 12-14, 11-5, 11-6 against ESIC’s Subhendu Show. Both the seeded players had received first-round byes.
Anirban wouldn’t have expected such a resistance coming from Das so early in the match. After several deuces and squandering four game points, Anirban lost the opening game. Yet, he was leading 3-2 and looked like overhauling his West Bengal opponent soon. But Das took the sixth game to push the Railways player to the brink. But Anirban reserved his best for the decider and won comfortably.
In the morning, top eight seeded crossed the first hurdle and moved into the round of 32. But Archana Kamath, seeded No. 2, Madhurika, seeded seventh and Ayhika Mukherjee, No. 8 seed, were stretched by their opponents, giving the fancied players some torrid moments. However, the remaining seeds went through the motions, especially in the top half, against their rivals easily.
Archana was down 1-2 against Tamil Nadu’s Seraha Jacob—she won the third game16-14—but the PSPB paddler, who will be representing India at the Youth Olympics at Buenos Aires next month, came into her groove to arrest a possible upset with a 11-8, 4-11, 14-16, 11-6, 11-9, 11-5.
As for Madhurika, who is yet return to her best form, struggled. The seventh seed was up 2-1 yet she allowed qualifier Premangi Ghosh from West Bengal cause a minor stir when she managed to level 2-2 in the fourth game. But the experienced former national champion first managed to pull it off in the fifth game, winning it by minimal points, and then wrap up the match 11-6, 8-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-9, 11-2 rather quickly.
Ayhika, who was a Team India member at the Asian Games in Jakarta, picked up herself nicely after losing the first against Priyanka Pareek of Rajasthan. But the left-hander, who was returning to the arena after a year’s break, managed to win the fourth game on extended points to give some worries to Ayhika. However, she steadied herself against an error-prone Priyanka to win 8-11, 11-7, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7, 11-4.
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