Jammu, Dec 4: It was not be a cakewalk for both Maharashtra A and Uttar Pradesh, the top two seeds, as they are expected to meet some of the hot contenders in each of their halves during the second stage in the 81st Junior and Youth Nationals Table Tennis Championship being played here at the Indoor Hall of the Maulana Azad Stadium.
Maharashtra girls, the title holders, placed in the top half can have a smooth passage up to the semi-final but could run into a rough weather if they happen to clash either Tamil Nadu or the winners of Karnataka and Maharashtra B teams. The open draw taken after the completion of group engagements suggest the top-seeded team would have to work really hard to go past the semi-final stage.
Equally alarming is the situation for the No. 2 seeded squad, Uttar Pradesh, as they will have to overcome teams like either Delhi or Bengal A and Haryana, a hot favourites for the title, along with Bengal B. UP would be banking on Radhyapriya Goel, their No. 1 player and talented Ambika Gupta to see them through, while Haryana has two fine offensive and defensive players in Suhana Saini and Anjali Rohilla, respectively, to come up with unexpected results against their opponents. Similarly, Bengal A has the all-weather players in Poymantee Baishya and Munmun Kundu to help them go past the semi-final and even win them the gold.
As for the Junior Boys, holders and top-seed Delhi will have an envious task of arresting the progress of Bengal B, who they are expected to meet at the quarterfinal stage and Tamil Nadu during the bronze medal round. But before that they run into Telangana in the pre-quarters which have a good squad, comprising Kesavan Kannan, Sai Krishna and Sainath Reddy. But they have the likes of Aadarsh Om Chetri, Payas Jain and Yashansh Malik to do the job. Payas, who returned from the Junior World Championships in Thailand—India reached the main draw there—will have no time to relax and has to get down to business straightaway.
Gujarat, who are seeded No. 2, could face Karnataka in the quarters and they would have to contend with Sujan Bharadwaj, K.J. Akash and Srikanth Kashyap, who on their day, can send the best of teams into a tizzy. If they manage to cross the last-eight hurdle, they are expected to take on Mizoram, who have two solid players in Jeho and Alberto capable of turning the tables on them.
Results of Team Events played on Tuesday:
Junior Boys (Round 3):
Group A: Chhattisgarh bt Punjab 3-2; Group B: Gujarat bt Andaman & Nicobar 3-0; Group C: Mizoram bt Bihar 3-0, Tamil Nadu bt Andhra Pradesh 3-0; Group D: Bengal A bt Pondicherry 3-0, Maharashtra A bt Jharkhand 3-0; Group E: Karnataka bt Madhya Pradesh 3-0, Haryana bt Himachal Pradesh 30; Group F: Telangana bt Meghalaya 3-0, Uttar Pradesh bt Rajasthan 3-0; Group G: Bengal B bt Chandigarh 3-0, Goa bt Odisha 30; Group H: PSPBA bt Jammu and Kashmir 3-0, Assam bt Uttarakhand 3-0.
Junior Girls (Round 3):
Group A: Odisha bt Goa 3-0; Group B: Gujarat bt Kerala 3-1; Group C: Andhra Pradesh bt Uttarakhand 3-1; Group D: Chandigarh bt Madhya Pradesh 3-2; Group E: Haryana bt Bihar 3-0, Maharashtra B bt Himachal Pradesh 3-0; Group F: Tamil Nadu bt Meghalaya 3-0, Bengal B bt Pondicherry 3-0; Group G: Telangana bt Jharkhand 3-0, Rajasthan bt Chhattisgarh 3-1;Group H: Assam bt Jammu and Kashmir 3-0, Bengal A bt Punjab 3-1. (UNI)