Indore, February 16: Meenu Basak, former India international, emerged the champion as she defeated title-holder Prasunna Parekh of Gujarat in a tough Women 40+ singles final of the 26th Masters National Table Tennis Championships at the Abhay Prashal here today.
Thus, Meenu, more or less, completed a hat-trick of titles, having won her crown in the section at Chandigarh, Pune and now here. Perhaps, the West Bengal paddler may have achieved the feat in the Jaipur edition itself, but she skipped the event last year.
Meenu, after all has been regularly in touch with the game and it was visible right from the second round of the main draw. Passing one hurdle after another, she entered the final to meet up with last edition’s winner and top-seed Prasunna Parekh, who had shown grit all through to make it to the title-round.
The final match-up seemed what the doctor had ordered for as the two most complete players had entered the final and it was evident from the way they fought till the end. The match saw some excellent moments with no one willing to give up as they took the alternate game. The match may not have raised a din in the packed stadium but the vociferous crowd supporting each player had its share.
After cautiously approaching the first game and winning it with minimal points, Meenu was pushed to the corner by the Gujarat paddler who stopped her at mere two points in the second. Then it was Meenu’s turn to return the compliment as she pushed and prodded before seizing the opportunity to send some forehand scorchers time and again to go 2-1 up. Not to be deterred, Prasunna came back strongly in the next and levelled the score.
In the decider, too, it was a touch-and-go affairs with players being separated by a solitary point or, at the maximum, by a couple. Leading 9-8, Meenu took the timeout and it worked to her advantage when Prasunna put the ball out. Serving for the match, Meeu kept the ball short and Prasunna returned well. However, a bold forehand from Meenu, touched the net cord and went past the Gujarat paddler who missed it completely, leaving an apologetic West Bengal player celebrate her triumph.
Mantu and Mangal again
Mantu Murmu in her class has always been a difficult customer to beat as Rajni Gupta, an enterprising Punjab paddler, would have realised in the Women 50+ final today as Mantu won 3-2. In fact, Rajni had everything going for her as she took the first two games rather easily.
But the West Bengal veteran, shunning her initial guard, launched an attack to first level the score before wrapping it up for yet another singles crown. The match turned on its head when Rajni missed the opportunity in the third game and went into her shell at a time when Mantu was on the attack.
In contrast, Mangal Saraf, leading 2-0, in the Women 60+ final against state mate Suhasini Bakre was taken aback when Suhasini counter-attacked in the third game to win 11-6. But then Mangal, knowing her opponent so well, sealed her fate in the nick of time, winning the fourth game with just two points to spare for a 3-1 verdict.
Women Singles 40+: Final: Meenu Basak (WB) bt Prasunna Parekh (Guj) 11-9, 2-11, 11-7, 7-11, 11-8.
Women Singles 50+: Final: Mantu Murmu (WB) bt Rajni Gupta (Pun) 6-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-6.
Women Singles 60+: Final: Mangal Saraf (Mah) bt Suhasini Bakre (Mah) 11-9, 11-7, 6-11, 11-9.
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