Thiruvananthapuram: Manav Thakkar clinched the seventh game against A. Sharath Kamal with a lot to spare after dousing the imminent threat from the ace paddler to win the men’s singles 4-3 in a gripping final of the second UTT National Ranking Championships at the Jimmy George Indoor Stadium here today.
Diya Chitale defeated her RBI colleague and national champion Sreeja Akula 4-1 to win the women’s singles crown.
Both the winners took home Rs. 77,000 each for their efforts.
Manav was sitting pretty with a 2-1. But Sharath gave it back to his PSPB colleague with precise placements and excellent execution of backhand strokes to go 3-2 up. Manav was all at sea, unable to counter Sharath. However, his late charge in the sixth and his 14-12 win on the fourth game point was good enough to drain the veteran out. Manav, ready to pounce on such an opportunity, upped the ante in the decider to wear Sharath down for the title.
The women’s final did not raise any din as Diya Chitale defeated RBI colleague and national champion Sreeja Akula 4-1. A confident personified Diya was a free-flowing poetry in motion this evening. Though she lost the second game to Sreeja, Diya unleashed her offensive shots and got them right to ruffle the normally calm Hyderabad girl. Once Diya gained a comfortable 3-1 lead, she finished the job with a cool head, but not before her opponent threatened to take the extended game. Qualifier P.B. Abhinand proved too good for top-seed Harmeet Desai last night when he outsmarted the top-ranked Indian in the world at No. 73. The 3-2 win had given the Tamil Nadu boy immense confidence. Yet, he could not replicate the performance against fourth-seed Sharath Kamal. He took the first game of the veteran 13-11 on his third game point in the semifinal, but Abhinand fell to the experienced Sharath, who won 4-1.
But in the second semifinal, second-seed Manav Thakkar struggled against third-seed Snehit. The match that saw solid rallies between the two had some close moments in the tie. Snehit, leading 2-1, let Manav off the hook after he levelled 2-2 as the AAI lad squandered the advantage in the fifth game before equalling in the sixth on the third game point. However, Manav placed himself well in the decisive game and closed out on his opponent.
Top women seed Sreeja Akula tackled Sutirtha Mukherjee so well that the latter wilted under pressure after restoring parity at 1-1. Sreeja attacked and blocked well, while Sutirtha struggled to achieve perfection with her backhand. And to her chagrin, it deserted her on the day, adding to the pressure in the first semifinal.
In the second, however, Diya Chitale showed enormous patience and used her forehand for perfect finishes. The game plan of Ayhika Mukherjee and the odd rubber did not bother Diya as much as it did to her during the final of the ranking tournament in Hyderabad in June. Learning from her mistakes, Diya went on course correction and trained with Yashaswini Ghorpade. So much so that Ayhika felt the pressure and could not get her blocking right throughout. Making most of the unforced errors by Ayhika, who led 6-4 in the decider, Diya held two match points before letting her RBI colleague deuce. But on the third match point, Diya clinched it.
Ankur, Subhankrita win
P. Yeshwant of Karnataka not only stretched top-seed Ankur Bhattacharjee in the Under-19 Boys semi-final but posed a real threat twice in the fourth and fifth games. The qualifier levelled the score at 13-11 in the fantastic offensive versus defensive match, but Ankur pulled it off in the decider for the same score after deuce. The Karnataka paddler almost wore his rival out before the latter picked up crucial points to enter the final.
In contrast, left-hander Preyesh Raj from Tamil Nadu took less than 20 minutes to shut out Aayan Ghosh of West Bengal in straight games to join Ankur in the final.
In the Under-19 Girls events, fourth seed Taneesha Kotecha from Maharashtra felled top-seed and title favourites Suhana Saini in a fine come-from-behind 3-2 win. Suhana had everything going for her, including in the third game but squandered the chance to win 3-0. That was her mistake, as Taneesha cashed in on that win and confidently upped her game to enter the final.
The perseverance of Subhankrita Datta of NCOE earned her a place in the final when she beat chopper Sayanika Maji of Delhi 3-2. The offensive Subhankrita sporadically struggled against the defensive Delhi girl but eventually gained the upper hand to advance.
Their title win was worth Rs. 30,800 each.