Dharamshala, Nov 16: Strong teams in Sub-Junior Boys and Sub-Junior Girls made their presence felt as they began their first-round on a winning note in the team championships of the UTT 81st Cadet and Sub-Junior National Table Tennis Championships at the Indoor Stadium here today.
With just one team qualifying for the Stage 2 knockouts, the matches between the top two teams of each group, which is the third round, will ultimately decide who among the two make the cut. On a day of relaxed schedule—each team plays just two rounds on Day 1—the first match for the top two teams were invariably a warm-up round and there were no mishaps in the first four groups.
However, Group F topper Kerala suffered a reversal when hosts Himachal Pradesh defeated 3-1 while the No. 2 team in the group, Uttar Pradesh, defeated Meghalaya 3-0 to retain the No. 1 position along with HP. Group E topper Maharashtra B, too, faced tough Haryana boys before going down 0-3 while Rajasthan, the second best team in the group, struggled to overcome a resilient beat Bihar 3-2.
It was not a grand opening for the hosts when Ritvik Rana went down to Anokh G. Nair 11-6, 11-13, 6-11, 8-11, but Naman Bhatnagar fought well, after losing his opening game, against Milan Binoy Nair to level the score when he won 9-11, 11-7, 11-3, 11-6. Rana made up when he combined with Bhatnagar to beat Anokh and Milan in the doubles with a 11-8, 11-5, 11-7 triumph to put Himachal on the path of victory. In reverse singles, Nama proved competent enough to beat Anokh 11-7, 11-8, 10-12, 11-3 to log their full points.
Similarly, in group H, Maharashtra B lost their first game when Haryana’s Naman Arora defeated Kushal Chopda 11-8, 12-10, 11-5 but his brother Namit failed to consolidate when he went down to Kushal Patel 11-7, 7-11, 10-12, 5-11, providing the cushion to their opponents.
But the Haryana duo brought their team back in the lead, beating Gaurav Panchgan and Axat Jain 11-6, 4-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-5 in a tough doubles match.
With a 2-1 lead established, it was up to Naman to seized the opportunity and the Haryana boy downed Kushal Patel 11-7 11-7, 11-7.
In Sub-Junior Girls, Karnataka in Group A beat Chhattisgarh 3-0 as did Tamil Nadu in Group B, posting a 3-1 win over Odisha to sound a warning to the rest in fray and looking to topple last year’s winner and runner-up.
It was equally easy for Maharashtra A in Group C, West Bengal in Group D, Gujarat in Group E, Delhi in Group F and Maharashtra B in Group G while the contest between Telangana, the top team in Group H, and Kerala decide who retains which position.
But Goan girls in the group posted a tough 3-2 victory over Rajasthan, who began well when Ananyaa Sinha defeated Najida Sheikh 11-6, 11-7, 14-12. But the lead was neutralized when Trisha Verlekar won a tough battle against Samaira Sharma with 11-5, 118, 7-11, 2-11, 11-7 verdict to give them a chance.
But it was not to be when the Rajasthan combine of Ananyaa and Priyanshi Prajapati won against beating Sneha Mesta and Najida 11-9, 7-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-6.
With the score 2-1 in favour of Rajasthan, Trisha played an excellent match to overcome the strong Ananyaa 12-10, 6-11, 12-10, 10-12, 11-8, leaving Najida to take on from there.
And the Goan girl did not disappoint them as she beat Samaira 9-11, 11-5, 11-9, 6-11, 14-12, particularly the last game with match-points changing hands. In fact, this was one match which saw 23 games, just two less than the maximum! In Cadet Boys and Cadet Girls, the trend went along expected lines with one round each getting over. (UNI)