Ajmer, Nov 29: In a remarkable match of one-upmanship, 12th seeded Arjun Ghosh from Airports Authority of India (AAI) proved the stuffing he is made of when he toppled No. 1 seed title-favourite Manav Thakkar 4-2 in the men's singles semi-final of the 49th Inter-Institutional Table Tennis Championships at the MCC Indoor Stadium here today.
He will take on in tomorrow’s final another PSPB man, Sanil Shetty, who was riding on a fine form, defeated Ronit Bhanja in straight games. Earlier in a fine comeback win, Arjun ousted fourth-seed Harmeet Desai 4-3 to earn a hard-fought quarterfinal victory after being 1-3 down. Then in the decider, fortunes swung from one extreme to another before Arjun winning at 15-13 when Harmeet faulted with his service. Ronit had beaten Sushmit Sriram 4-1, while Manav won with a similar score against Anthony Amalraj and Shetty beat Abhishek Yadav 4-0.
In the match against Manav, Arjun was comfortably placed at 3-1 until the PSPB player, known for not giving up easily, unleashed his lethal blocks effectively and used forehand scorchers to pulled one down. Then at deuce in the sixth game, Manav goofed up what was a good chance with his service on before Arjun clinching the last point when Manav’s counter to Arjun’s topspin went out. Sanil, on a roll, found an easy prey in Ronit. Some immaculately measured down-the-line winners and some breathtaking drives from the left-hander were the highlights of the second semifinal. One must also give credit to the way Ronit responded with equal felicity and dotted with wonderful long rallies. In the end, Sanil proved a few notches above his junior on the day.
Archana must have been really upset after being 9-5 in the second game and letting Manika climb up from a slippery position which the former failed to take advantage of. From there, one could see the confidence of Manika rising as she inched her way up slowly, but surely. However, it was surprising for someone like Archana taking too much time to understand the gambit of Manika and instead playing into the hands of Manika involuntarily.
That was the cardinal blunder she committed despite having her chance coming in the fifth game when it was moving a neck and neck, the reigning national champion could not measure up to her own expectations. Whenever she attacked, it looked nice and she was gaining the upper hand. Looking back, Archana would rue the second game slip-up and certainly recall her quarterfinal against Sreeja Akula when she overcame a real worst situation. At the same time, Manika would recall her 1-4 semifinal loss to Archana at the Cuttack Nationals and prepare herself satisfactorily for tomorrow’s final in peace.
Speaking of confidence, Reeth Rishya was the perfect example. Playing very consistently in a long time, the PSPB paddler stamped her authority throughout, including in the quarterfinals and in the semifinal against Krittwika Sinha Roy, who was the silver medallist at Cuttack. Reeth’s crispy forehands and the occasional backhand whips were all coordinated well. Even her blocks came in a measured way and they fetched equally quite a good number of points. All in all, the positivity in her was there for all to see.
Haryana’s pair of Jubin Kumar and Soumyajit Ghosh can go home with some satisfaction after having beaten the reputed pair from PSPB, Sanil Shetty and Sudhanshu Grover 3-0. In what turned out to be a one-sided men doubles final, the Haryana duo showed maturity and determination to claim the trophy.
AAI’s mixed pair of Ronit Bhanja and Selenadeepthi Selvakumar redeemed with a gold medal when it defeated PSPB’s husband-wife duo of Sanil Shetty and Reeth Rishya 3-2 in a tough final, while Ayhika Mukherjee and Sreeja Akula made up for earlier losses with an easy win in the women doubles when the RBI women beat junior duo of Yashaswini Ghorpade and Vanshika Bhargava of AAI 3-0. Results:
Women Singles: Semi-finals: Manika Batra (PSPB) bt Archana G. Kamath (PSPB) 9-11, 12-10, 6-11, 11-3, 11-8, 11-7; Reeth Rishya (PSPB) bt Krittwika Sinha Roy (PSPB) 11-6, 9-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-7; Quarterfinals: Manika Batra bt Mousumi Paul (PSPB) 11-3, 11-8, 11-6, 11-5; Archana Kamath bt Sreeja Akula (RBI) 11-4, 15-13, 7-11, 7-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-9; Reeth Rishya bt Kaushani Nath (RSPB) 11-8, 11-7, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7; Krittwika Sinha Roy bt Sutirtha Mukherjee (PSPB) 12-10, 11-8, 14-12, 5-11, 11-3.
Women Doubles: Final: Ayhika Mukherjee/Sreeja Akula (RBI) bt Yashaswini Ghorpade/Vanshika Bhargava (AAI) 11-8, 11-8, 12-10.
Semi-finals: Ayhika Mukherjee/Sreeja Akula bt Shruti VijayAmrute/Sagarika Mukherjee (RSPB) 12-10, 11-13, 11-6, 11-4; Yashaswini Ghorpade/Vanshika Bhargava bt Kaushani Nath/Moumita Dutta (RSPB) 11-9, 11-9, 11-8.
Men Singles: Semi-finals: Arjun Ghosh (AAI) bt Manav Thakkar (PSPB) 7-11, 11-7, 11-8, 12-10, 9-11, 12-10; Sanil Shetty (PSPB) bt Ronit Bhanja (AAI) 11-4, 13-11, 11-8, 14-12; Quarterfinals: Manav Thakkar bt Anthony Amalraj (PSPB) 11-7, 11-6, 5-11, 10-12, 11-6, 11-4; Arjun Ghosh bt Harmeet Desai (PSPB) 12-10, 6-11, 9-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-3, 15-13; Ronit Bhanja bt Sushmit Sriram (AAI) 8-11, 11-8, 11-9, 12-10, 11-2; Sanil Shetty bt Abhishek Yadav (UP) 11-6, 11-7, 11-7, 11-8.
Men Doubles: Final: Jubin Kumar/Soumyajit Ghosh (Har) bt Sanil Shetty/Sudhanshu Grover (PSPB) 11-7, 11-5, 11-6.
Semi-finals: Sanil Shetty/Sudhanshu Grover bt Sushmit Sriram/Akash Pal (AAI) 11-3, 11-9, 14-12; Jubin Kumar/Soumyajit Ghosh bt Sourav Saha/Jeet Chandra (PSPB) 11-4, 13-11, 8-11, 11-9.
Mixed Doubles: Final: Ronit Bhanja/Selenadeepthi Selvakumar (AAI) bt Sanil Shetty/Reeth Rishya (PSPB) 11-7, 6-11, 11-9, 14-16, 11-8. (UNI)