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Sreeja wears her maiden international crown

Indore: Two-time National champion Sreeja Akula claimed her first international title when she defeated world No. 46 Lily Zhang of the USA 3-0 (11-6, 18-16, 11-5) in the women’s singles final of the WTT Feeder Corpus Christi 2024 last night, marking a bright beginning to the new calendar year.

On her way to the final, the woman from Hyderabad beat French women Stephanie Loeuillette 3-1 and upstaged top-seed Amy Wang 3-2 (11-9, 9-11, 11-1, 6-11, 11-9) in the see-saw quarterfinals.

Ranked No. 94 in the world, the 25-year-old Indian led 2-1. But she let the world No. 37 claw her way back to level the score. However, Sreeja grabbed the last points in the decider to outsmart her.

In the semifinals, she ran into Jiangshan Gao, another US paddler of Chinese origin, and led 2-1. Precariously placed at 1-2, the US player staged a fine recovery to level the score in the fourth extended game at 12-10. After that, she finished the close fifth game to win 9-11, 11-5, 11-6, 10-12, 11-9 and enter the final.

But the final turned out as a one-sided affair. After winning the stretched second game on the sixth game point against Lily, Sreeja wrapped it up for the top-of-podium finish.

“I am immensely pleased, and my efforts got me where I wanted to be. It’s my maiden international title, and I have earned it after two close calls in the quarterfinals and semifinals of the tournament. Both (Amy and Lily) were higher-ranked players and played well against them,” said the Hyderabad woman.

 

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