Bhavnagar: Second-seeded Manush Shah’s withdrawal in the round of 32 has not only jeopardised his chance of winning a medal but also deprived him of valuable points in the UTT National Ranking (Central Zone) Table Tennis Championships at the SAG Sports Complex here today.
The Gujarat lad, who suffered some swelling on his playing hand, was left high and dry in what was a left-handers’ R32 match. In the bargain, Abhimanyu Mitra of West Bengal profited storming into the pre-quarterfinals after Manush conceded the match. But for this one aberration, most of the top seeds advanced to the next round easily but a few did face some hurdles which they had to overcome boldly. Similarly, except for Jubin Kumar all other Haryana paddlers made it to the pre-quarterfinals
This has, in a way, left the door ajar for the remaining men singles players, including top-seed Sanil Shetty, who beat Mani Subhash of IA&AD 4-0.
In women singles, if it was a toil for second-seeded Ayhika Mukherjee against qualifier Frenaz Chipia of Gujarat, fourth-seed Sreeja Akuka, who is also the women singles winner at Thane, had a tough outing against Manushree Patil of Maharashtra while for fifth-seed Archana Kamath the fight back against Surbhi Patwari of West Bengal was equally tough.
However, all but one seeded player did survive to move into the pre-quarterfinals. However, seventh-seed Selenadeepthi Selvakumar of Tamil Nadu was caught on the wrong foot and lost the Round of 32 to Telangana’s Naina 2-4 despite the former having a bad opening. It’s another matter that the Telangana girl soon pooh-poohed any negative thought that might have crossed her mind to go 3-1 up before dropping her second game to Selena. In the sixth, however, she stopped the TN girl with a lot to spare.
But Frenaz Chipia of Gujarat must be credited the way she fought two consecutive rounds—she won 4-3 in a grim first-round battle against Varuni Jaiswal of Telangana—but the experience of the RBI woman held her in good stead as Ayhika upped the ante when it was the need of the hour in the sixth game to disallow any further liberty to Frenaz.
Sreeja, after her fantastic comeback win against Takeme Sarkar in women single final in the West Zone a few days before, was expected to roll past Maushree. But the lanky Maharashtra girl had other thoughts and fought well to stretch her. But it was curtain for Takeme Sarkar, who had finished runner-up at Thane as she became a victim to Divya Deshpande guile. But her teammate Pooja Sahasrabudhe, too, struggled before overcoming Monica Manohar of Telangana 4-2.
But the match between two qualifiers—Moumita Dutta and Nithyashree Mani—turned out be a marathon which the West Bengal girl won 4-3. In the decider, the Tamil Nadu girl had her chance but was stopped short of two points when experience came in handy for Moumuta. Equally interesting was the match between experienced Mousumi Paul of PSPB and upcoming Tamil Nadu player, Kowshika Venkatesan, who had to win her last three games to progress.