Top men’s seeds sprout in TT nationals

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Hyderabad, Jan 9 (IANS) Fifth seed G. Sathiyan had to bring out his best against Haryana’s Sarthak Gandhi to enter the men’s singles quarter-finals of the 77th National and Inter-State Table Tennis Championships at the Kotla Vijay Bhaskara Reddy Indoor Stadium here on Saturday.

The Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) paddler won 4-2 but sixth and seven-seeded Devesh Karia of Gujarat and Rajasthan’s Sudhanshu Grover, respectively, made their exit in the pre-quarterfinals. Haryana’s Jubin Kumar accounted for Grover with a 4-1 verdict while PSPB’s Subhajit Saha thumped Karia 4-0.

Sathiyan had a dream start to lead 2-0 before Sarthak staged his comeback in the third extended game after four deuces. The Haryana lad won 16-14 but Sathiyan was quick enough to gather himself soon enough to go 3-1 up. Yet, Sarthak did not give up and managed yet another set off his rival before Sathiyan closed the shop on him.

Jubin, on the other hand, outsmarted his PSPB rival Grover despite the latter managing to take a game off him. Others, including top seeded Sharath Kamal, No.2 Anthony Amalraj, No.3 Soumyajit Ghosh, No.4 Harmeet Desai and eighth seed Sanil Shetty entered the last eight stage easily.

Women’s singles top seed Manika Batra was ill at ease right from the word go against Maharashtra’s Senhora D’Souza and her troubles continued until the decider. At one time, the Maharashtra girl was 3-1 up and an upset was very much on the cards. Yet the gritty Manika suddenly opened out to send Senhora scurrying for points. It was providence that Manika escaped several unforced errors in each game to take it to the decider.

In the decider, too, she was up 5-3 when they changed sides. But Senhora fought bravely to square it up at 5-5. However at 10-7, Manika sent one to the net but at the next opportunity, seized the advantage to enter the quarter-finals.

Telangana’s eighth seed Nikhat Banu, to her credit, took West Bengal’s Mousumi Paul the full distance in the pre-quarterfinals. However, Nikhat has to blame herself for not pressing the advantage when she led 3-1 and letting the West Bengal paddler have a cozy ride from a precarious position.

Like Manika, Mousumi had to win the last three games and that’s where Nikhat lost the plot. After a couple of deuces she let Mousumi off the hook in the fifth game from where her rival was a transformed person as Nikhat wilted under Mousumi’s continued onslaught.

Fifth-seeded Ankita Das kept herself within reach of her Reserve Bank of India (RBI) rival Pallabi Kundu and led 3-2. But Pallabi fought back well in the fifth game to give herself an even chance in the decider. Ankita, however, was up to the task and stopped her early to romp home the winner.

Making a mockery of the seeding, both unseeded Reeth Rishya and Krittwika Sinha Roy sent No.3 and 4 seeds K. Shamini (PSPB) and Divya Deshpande (Maharashtra) packing. Sixth seed Pooja Sahasrabuddhe struggled to overcome West Bengal’s Ayhika Mukherjee 4-2 and No.7 Madhurika Patkar and No.2 Mouma Das both had easy quarter-final passages beating Delhi’s Neha Agarwal and RBI’s Shweta Parte, respectively, with 4-1 margins.

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