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Maharashtra retain the crown and Haryana the silver

Kolkata, January 8: In what was a repeat final of last year between Maharashtra and Haryana in the Under-19 Girls team championships in the 85th edition of the UTT Inter-State Youth and Junior National Table Tennis Championships at the Netaji Indoor Stadium, Maharashtra retained the crown, beating Haryana 3-0 today.

Despite the presence of Suhana Saini, who is No. 2 in the national ranking, in their team, it was not Haryana’s day as Pritha Vartikar, Sayani Wali and Taneesha Kotecha, who are No. 1, No. 2 and No. 5, in that order, always had the upper hand. And it not only reflected in the way they approached the final but also retained the title.

Pritha has been in a roaring form this season. Her fearless approach even paid dividends when she got to the semifinals in the Senior Nationals at Panchkula last month. As a result, she ended at No. 6 position on the National ranking points accumulated this season. So, it did not surprise anyone that the Pune girl showed her gritty side again and beat Prithoki Chakraborti 3-1 in the first rubber.

However, Suhana Saini’s 2-3 loss in the second rubber to Sayali Wani was the last nail in the coffin. But Suhana, expected to take the battle to the fourth rubber, if not the last, had her chance when she levelled the score after the deuce in the fourth game. However, a couple of lucky points aided by Suhana’s unforced errors sealed the latter’s fate.

The left-handed Saanvi Dargan tried hard, including taking a game off Taneesha Kotecha, but could not deny Taneesha or Maharashtra the well-deserved crown. Saanvi, with her peculiar service style, confused Taneesha initially, but the Maharashtra player stuck to her game to emerge the winner. Lakshita Narang and Vanshika Mudgal are the players that Delhi depended on for further progress in the team event. Riddhima Kapoor was always capable of providing the middle cushion. But surprisingly, Riddhima won the third rubber, while both Lakshita and Vanshika failed to up the ante against a strong Maharashtra in their semifinals.

Pritha Vartikar, on the other hand, played a stellar role and first beat Vanshika and then Lakshita in her reverse singles. Sayali Wani downed Lakshita in the second rubber, which cost Delhi dear. A hard-fought 3-2 win by Riddhima against Taneesha was of no avail, as Delhi had to be satisfied with the bronze medal.

In contrast, Haryana coasted along well even after Prithoki Charaborti lost to Oishiki Joardar in the opening rubber, when Suhana Saini routed Jiya Jayswal 3-0 and Saanvi Dargan struggled past Jiya Trivedi 3-2. But the fourth rubber tipped the scales somewhat towards Gujarat when Oishiki pulled Gujarat ahead with a 3-2 win over Suhana in their reverse singles. Prithoki made amends with a calculated game plan against Riya to put Haryana in the final.

Results (Team Events):

U-19 Girls Finals: Maharashtra bt Haryana 3-0 (Pritha Vartikar bt Prithoki Chakraborti 11-7, 11-6, 8-11, 11-8, Sayali Wali bt Suhana Saini 11-9, 8-11, 11-7, 11-13, 11-9, Taneesha Kotecha bt Saanvi Dargan 101-2, 11-4, 11-5, 11-7).

Semifinals: Maharashtra bt Delhi 3-1 (Pritha bt Vanshika Mudgal 11-7, 11-8, 3-11, 11-8, Sayali bt Lakshita Narang 5-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-7, Taneesha lost to Riddhima Kapoor 8-11, 11-9, 10-12, 116, 9-11,  Pritha bt Lakshita 151-13, 12-10, 11-8); Haryana bt Gujarat 3-2 (Prithoki lost to Oishiki Joardar 9-11, 8-11, 7-11, Suhana bt Riya Jayswal 11-2, 11-7, 13-11, Saanvi bt Jiya Trivedi 6-11, 9-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-6, Suhana lost to Oishiki 6-11, 11-1, 8-11, 11-4, 8-11, Prithoki bt Riya 11-8, 11-5, 11-4).





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