Event Section
Sharath on Cloud 9, Archana takes first baby step


Cuttack, January 9: A. Sharath Kamal was on Cloud 9. When the world No. 31 and multiple CWG and Asian Games medal winner defeated G. Sathiyan 4-3 in men singles final of the 11Sports 80th National Table Tennis Championship at the Nehru Stadium here today, Sharath stood tall at the peak as the lone Indian to achieve the rare feat.


But what a final it had turned out to be for Sathiyan, whose brilliance matched that of Sharath’s and yet he suffered at his hand for the second time while chasing an elusive maiden title despite reaching the final on three occasions.


In fact, Sharath should have sewn it up earlier. But he could not hold his nerves despite leading 10-8 in the fifth game and Sathiyan pulled it off nicely at 12-10 to go 3-2 up. The pressure on Sharath was too much as he had to win the next to stay in the match and he did it in style. But the decider took the toll on both players and the extended game was won on the third match-point by Sharath while Sathiyan just missed one.


“The pressure was on both of us. But whatever I did to take the ninth title off my mind, it was coming back again and again with everyone remembering me. Similarly, Sathiyan was going for his first title and he was equally pressured,” said Sharath.


Giving full credit to Sathiyan, Sharath said, “This final was by far the best in terms of quality.” That explains the ferocity and seriousness with which Sathiyan attacked from both flanks and kept me engaged.”


Archana, who skipped the Youth National after niggle, did well to recover in time for the nationals. Her confidence had soared after beating CWG gold meadal winner Manika Batra in the semifinals and it was evident twice in the final when after trailing 4-7 in the third and again 6-10 in the fourth, the girl from Karnataka came back strongly to go 3-1 up.  But in the fifth, some loose shots didn’t help her as she gave away too many negatives to the West Bengal paddler.


However, in the sixth she sealed the fate of Krittwika, who was chasing her first women singles title, and the match with authority and a lot to spare to make her father Dr Girish Kamath, sitting in the gallery, proud.


Archana dedicated the win to three important people, coach Vijay Sarathy, Judit Magos Engle, wife of former India coach Peter Engel, and her cousin sister, who passed away a fortnight ago under tragic circumstances. “I have been very attached to her,” said the Youth Olympics quarterfinalist. “I think the title has come at the right time. I always wanted to win the crown. I know even my opponent (Krittiwika) would have liked to do that. I am happy I could do accomplish it,” said an emotional Archana.


Archana Kamath accomplished something which Archana Rao (Viswanath) could not do after reaching her first final in 1992 Goa Nationals. The 18-year-old has thus become the second paddler from Karnataka after Usha Sunder Raj, a five-time national champion, to win the crown.


The men singles semifinals were absolutely one-sided with Sharath and Sathiyan beating their opponents—Manav Thakkar and Ronit Bhanja—but what aroused interests was the women singles semifinals in which Archana Kamath and Krittwika Sinha emerged winners for a final showdown.


Earlier, Sathiyan beat Amalraj in the quarterfinals 4-2 for the first time and his first victory took as many as 14 meetings and came after 13 successive losses he suffered at the hands of the senior pro.


Archana defeated Manika Batra 4-1 while Krittwika struggled past Ayhika Mukhrjee 4-3 in a tough outing as the match went down to the wire.


Archana couldn’t have asked for a better opening as she was in a zone of her own with Manika struggling to feel the ball and was more error prone. But credit must be given to the girl from Karnataka, who is turning here for PSPB, to take an early lead in each of the first three games to go 3-0 up. It was only in the fourth did Manika showed a glimpse of her fight-back qualities and took the game to stay alive. But Archana was quick enough to grab the first opportunity in the next and seal her fate, entering the maiden final.


On the other hand, despite leading 2-1, Krittwika had to labour against Ayhika who came close to beating her opponent when she levelled the score at 3-3. However, in the decider, the Krittiwika showed more resolve and kept the ball on table, forcing her teammate to take the call. In her anxiety to take charge of the decider, Ayhika committed far too many mistakes helping Krittiwika win and enter her second final. She had done that before during the Patna Nationals, held five seasons ago in 2014.  


WB, Telangana win doubles


In men doubles final, the West Bengal pair of Arjun Ghosh and Ronit Bhanja defeated the Railways’ Anirban Ghosh and Anirban Nandi 3-1 to win the title, making up for their singles losses earlier, especially Ronit Bhanja who lost to G. Sathiyan in the men singles semifinals.


In women doubles, it was the Telangana’s Nikhat Banu and Sreeja Akula, who combined very well to beat Maharashtra’s Anannya Basak and Srushti Haleangadi, also with a 3-1 verdict. This was Telangana’s first ever title in the senior section.   




The results:


Men SinglesFinal: A. Sharath Kamal (PSPB) bt G. Sathiyan (PSPB) 11-13, 11-5, 11-6, 5-11, 10-12, 11-6, 14-12; Semifinals: A. Sharath Kamal bt Manav Thakkar (PSPB) 8-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-6, 11-6, G. Sathiyan bt Ronit Bhanja (WB) 11-2, 11-3, 11-9, 11-7; Quarterfinals:Manav Thakkar bt Siddhesh Pandey (Mah) 11-5, 12-10, 11-9, 11-2, A. Sharath Kamal bt Arjun Ghosh (WB) 11-3, 12-10. 11-5, 12-10, Ronit Bhanja bt Harmeet Desai (Guj) 11-5, 14-12, 11-6, 6-11, 6-11, 11-8, G. Sathiyan bt Anthony Amalraj (PSPB) 6-11, 11-4, 8-11, 11-7, 12-10, 11-6.


DoublesFinal: Arjun Ghosh & Ronit Bhanja (WB) bt Anirban Ghosh & Anirban Nandi (RSPB) 14-12, 8-11, 11-9, 12-10.


Women SinglesFinal: Archana Kamath (PSPB) bt Krittwika Sinha Roy (WB) 12-10, 6-11, 11-9, 12-10, 7-11, 11-3; Semifinals: Archana Kamath bt Manika Batra (PSPB) 11-7, 11-7, 11-7, 6-11, 11-8, Krittwika Sinha Roy bt Ahyhika Mukherjee (WB) 11-6, 11-13, 15-13, 15-17, 11-8, 3-11, 11-7; Quarterfinals: Ayhika Mukherjee  bt Sutirtha Mukherjee (Har) 10-12, 11-6, 11-7, 11-7, 7-11, 4-11, 11-7, Krittwika Sinha Roy bt Madhurika Patkar (PSPB) 11-9, 11-2, 7-11, 11-13, 13-11, 10-12, 8-11, Manika Batra bt Anusha Kutambale (MP) 11-8, 8-11, 11-9, 11-3, 11-7, Archana Kamath bt Sagarika Mukherjee (RSPB) 11-7, 9-11, 11-7, 11-2, 11-7.


DoublesFinal: Nikhat Banu & Sreeja Akula (Telg) bt Anannya Basak & Srushti Haleangadi (Mah) 11-2, 11-8, 8-11, 11-7.