Indore, May 23: Haryana’s Vatsal Duklan, justifying his ranking, emerged the winner of Group 1 and got the top billing in the Youth Boys Under-11 category when drawn with the 26 qualifiers in the National Ranking championships at the Abhay Prashal here today.
The electronic draw for the knockout stage threw up six byes from among the eight seeds. But the seventh-seed K. Akshay Bhushan and eight-seed A.B. Tharoon, both from Tamil Nadu will have no respite and will play their first round when the main draw begins later this evening.
Duklan, without dropping a sweat, grabbed the top slot beating Pratham Rao of Karnataka11-4, 12-10, 8-11, 11-4. He also benefited from the walkover as his next opponent failed to turn up. On a sweltering day that saw several walkovers across sections, Raunaq Goel of Delhi upstaged another Haryana paddler and group leader, Parsh Yadav, 11-9, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8 to qualify for the main draw.
Of the 26 qualifiers, the domination of Tamil Nadu and West Bengal was palpable as six first-timers each from these states have made it to the second stage. However, other states, especially Maharashtra and Delhi, with two qualifiers each, are there but need a lot of catching up to do. In other words, it also shows that Tamil Nadu and Bengal continue to remain the nursery of table tennis.
In Group 6, Aditya Das of Bengal had no opponent whatsoever as he scored 3-0 wins to take the top perch. He defeated Andhra Pradesh’s L. Surapureddy and Vidhyuth Srikanth of Tamil Nadu with similar margins. Still, the Andhra paddler proved gutsy against the Tamil Nadu boy to win his match 11-6, 7-11, 9-11, 11-7, 13-11 to finish second in the group.
Shreyas Mankeshwar of Maharashtra had to summon some courage and patience in two back-to-back five-setters. Yet, he could not qualify after winning the match against Gujarat’s Jenil Patel 4-11, 11-9, 11-5, 4-11, 11-9. In his second match against Pratham Kulkarni of Karnataka, the latter won 9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6.
Shreeraj Bardhan Singh of Bengal in group 18, despite enjoying a walkover, was stretched full when Vedansh Aswal of Delhi played a brilliant match which the former won 9-11, 11-3, 7-11, 11-6, 13-11.
The group engagements in both Under-13 and Under-15 are still underway and two rounds of the main draw will take place today evening.
Top eight seeds (Youth Boys Under-11): Vatsal Duklan (Har), S. Karmeghakannan (TTTA), Akash Rajavelu (TNTTA), Viren Patel (Del), Param Bhiwandkar (Mah), Vivaan Dave (Guj), K. Akshay Bhushan (TTTA) and A.B. Tharoon (TNTTA).
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