Guwahati, September 27: On a day many seeds failed to sprout, unseeded Siddesh Pandey from Maharashtra brought out his best to beat Sougata Sarkar, seeded 10, 4-2 and enter the men singles semi-finals of the11Sports National Ranking (East Zone) Table Tennis Championships at the R.G. Barua Sports Complex’s Indoor Stadium here today.
The procession which began with last evening with fourth seed Sushmit Sriram bowing out, continued this morning and evening as second seed Anthony Amalraj, third seed Sudhanshu Grover, fifth seed Sanil Shetty and eighth seed Raj Mondal being shown the exit door.
Top seed Manav Thakkar was in sublime form against Raj Mondal with a 4-1 win and sixth seed Arjun Ghosh, equally aggressive, sent Sudhanshu home (4-1) packing while in the left-hander’s quarterfinals, Manush Shah packed off Sanil Shetty 4-0.
But the quarterfinal of the day was, undoubtedly, the one between Siddesh Pandey and Sougata Sarkar, an old warhorse. Pandey was getting most of his shots right but Sarkar presented a contrasting picture. In fact, two extended were split equally but the LIC man had to fight hard in the fifth to win 16-14, on his third game point. But then Pandey, sitting pretty at 3-2, hastened the outcome in the next, reducing the agony to Sarkar.
REETH AT HER BEST
Reeth Rishya, who entered the semifinals in a long time, was in a fantastic form in the championships and one hopes she carries it on until the final. On the other hand, Ankita Das was struggling to regain her form, Unfortunately, she got here name bruised when she went down to Kaushani Nath of Airports Authority of India 1-4. However, it was easy for top-seeded Sutirtha Mukherjee and seventh-seeded Madhurika Patkar, who didn’t have to toil much.
Earlier in the day, second seed Archana Kamath, third seed Pooja Sahasrabudhe and fifth seed Krittwika Sinha Roy bowed out in the pre-quarterfinals.
Another seed that joined the procession was eighth-seed Ayhika Mukherjee who just about managed to take a game off Suthirta, who was in a punishing mood this evening. Ayhika’s consistency was lacking but more than that she made several errors, including failing to keep the ball on table. In fact, things became rather easy for the top seed, particularly in the third game after Ayhika managed to win the second one. However hard she tried in the fourth and fifth, Suthirta was on the verge of wrapping up the match.
Madhurika finally found her touch, both in the pre-quarterfinals and the quarters. Against young Surbhi Patwari, Madhurika played with purpose and it resulted in her strong backhand and the occasional free-flowing forehand returning to her arsenal. Surbhi, who did well to enter the quarters with authentic wins, was rather casual and was even without an advisor. Probably, it took a big toll on her game and she ended up on the losing side.
It was a pity to see a talented Reeth struggling for quite a long. But it was a different Reeth in this tournament. Her clever use of flanks and the powerful forehands did the trick for her against another talented youngster, Prapti Sen. The West Bengal girl must have learnt a few lessons on how to be aggressive from her opponent. In fact, Prpati played a wonder third game which she won on extended points but could not sustain the pace and aggression of Reeth, who got several winners from fine crispy shots.
But it was pathetic to see Ankita, the Indian representative at the London Olympics, going the way she did against Kaushani. The AAI girl, who despite winning an extended first game did not drop her guard, not stopped attacking. Yet, she lost the second one with Ankita playing her best. But it did not last as Kaushini, mixing her game cleverly, took the next three games, giving away just two points in the last.
Women Singles: Quarterfinals: Sutirtha Mukherjee (Har) bt Ayhika Mukherjee (RBI) 11-5, 7-11, 11-4, 11-8, 11-8; Kaushani Nathi (AAI) bt Ankita Das (PSPB) 12-10, 5-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-2; Reeth Rishya (PSPB) bt Prapti Sen (WB) 11-8, 11-4, 10-12, 11-7, 11-6; Madhurika Patkar (PSPB) bt Surbhi Patwari (WB) 11-8, 6-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-5.
Men Singles: Quarterfinals: Manav Thakkar (PSPB) bt Raj Mondal (RBI) 11-9, 13-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-7; Manush Shah (Guj) bt Sanil Shetty (PSPB) 12-10, 11-5, 11-9, 11-8; Arjun Ghosh (AAI) bt Sudhanshu Grover (PSPB) 11-5, 11-6, 7-11, 11-8, 11-9; Siddesh Pande (Mah) bt Sougata Sarkar (LIC) 11-7, 13-11, 9-11, 11-7, 14-16, 11-6.
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