Thane: With the top 16 seeds in men and eight in women biding time in cool confines of their hotels, it was a hectic affair for the qualifiers in both sections on a hot and humid day in the UTT National Ranking (West Zone) Table Tennis Championships at the Sulochana Devi Singhania School here today.
Prapti Sen of West Bengal was the first one to seal her main draw spot as she, placed in group 1, has already two points from her 11-4, 11-1, 11-5 victory against Moumita Shah and a walkover point from Vidhi Ameet Shah of Maharashtra, who has not turned up, is assured. This means a cakewalk awaits the West Bengal girl.
If it was as easy as it can get for Prapti, in the Group of Death (No. 28), comprising four very good players, Telangana’s Naina alone has four points from two wins—one against Vanshika Bhargava of Delhi and the other against Radhyapriya Goel of UP. However, she cannot be certain of booking the Stage 2 place unless she beat Tamil Nadu’s Deepika Neelakandan as a three-way tie in the group looks most likely.
Having played a tough match against the Delhi girl, which Naina won 7-11, 11-8, 11-8, 9-11, 13-11, it was easy against the UP girl as the Telangana girl registered a 11-6, 11-4, 5-11, 11-6. But she should consider herself lucky to be such a good position, thanks to Vanshika who, leading 8-4, 10-8 in the decider, frittered away the chance as Naina won 13-11.
In other interesting group matches, Surbhi Patwari of West Bengal struggled before overcoming Soumi Mondal of PSPB 3-2, Amrutha Pushpak of RBI came back strong to post a 10-12, 12-14, 11-8, 12-10, 12-10 triumph over Monika Manohar of Telangana and Nikhat Banu, also of RBI, struggled to win 11-8, 11-7, 10-12, 5-11, 11-8 against Tamil Nadu’s Nithyashree Mani.
Maharashtra’s Mallika Bhandarkar downed Varuni Jaiswal of Telangana 13-11, 11-5, 7-11, 8-11, 11-9 and Sataporne de of North Bengal extricated herself from a spot of bother to beat Bhavya Jayswal of Gujarat 9-11, 11-13, 11-8, 11-6, 11-8. Seraha Jacob of Tamil Nadu lost her opening round to Disha Hulawle of Maharashtra 11-7, 4-11, 11-9, 8-11, 7-11 but managed a win over Zena Chipia to keep her floating in group 27. But Tamanna Saini of Delhi led the group with two wins.
All the seeded players will jump into the fray before noon tomorrow when the knockout events begin and they will be joined by 48 group qualifiers from men, while 32 women paddlers will join the eight seeded in the main draw. But in the women’s draw there will be a good scope for first-round byes which will give a breather to the seeded and a few lucky players.