Thiruvananthapuram: On a day which saw as many as five women seeds fell by the wayside, losing to lesser players, the biggest upset of the day happened to be in the men section when top-seeded Manav Thakkar woefully fell short of the killer instinct and bowed out in the first round itself in the UTT National Ranking (South Zone) Table Tennis Championships at the Jimmy George Indoor Stadium here today.
The PSPB paddler had no reason to lose a match that he was dominating against Haryana’s Wesley Do Rosaria until the left-hander turned the tables on the title contender in nick of time in the fourth game which Manav led 4-1, after seizing the initiative very early in the first round.
Nobody would have thought that Manav, who struck an early rhythm with a 3-0 and 4-1 lead, to lose the way he did. On the other hand, the Haryana paddlers grabbed the opportunity at deuce and took his first game on extended points. In the last three games, there were occasions when Manav could have bounced back but the left-hander with his calculated attack and excellent blocks piled on the agony on his rival to romp home winners 4-3.
Probably, this match before noon set the tone for the rest of the day as five women seeds—No. 8 Reeth Rishya, No. 5 Sreeja Akula, No. 4 Divya Deshpande from the first half of the draw threw open the contest as they lost to Senhora D’Souza 3-4, Poymantee Baisya 2-4, Takeme Sarkar 2-4, respectively.
As if this was not enough, the bottom half of the draw saw No. 3 seed Sagarika Mukherjee surprisingly exiting to former national champion Shamini Kumaresan 3-4 in a game that lasted 45 minutes and then the talented Shruti Amrute accounting for No. 6 seed Pooja Sahasrabudhe 4-3 in another marathon.
This leaves top-seed Sutirtha Mukherjee a clean passage up to the semifinals unless she makes a mess of it. After enjoying the first-round by the Haryana girl beat Sataponi De of North Bengal for zilch. In her next round, she would be running into a determined Mallika Bhandarkar who beat young Kaushani Nath of Railways 4-0. Similarly, second-seed Madhurika Patkar and No. 7 seed Ayhika Mukherjee moved into the round of 32 from the bottom half, but Ayhika had to struggle to beat Mamata Prabhu of Bank of Baroda 4-2 after the former had levelled at 2-2.
Senhora had to play out of her skin to overcome Reeth in her second round match as the BoB girl was 2-3 down. She upped the ante when she needed to take seal her opponent’s fate. But it was somewhat easy for West Bengal’s Poymantee Baisya who sent Sreeja packing despite restoring parity at 2-2. Divya, too, faltered against a determined Takeme who managed to pull the shutters down when she took the fifth and sixth games.
But the match of the day in women singles was, undoubtedly, the one between Sagarika and Shamini. The No. 3 seed was expected to win but the fighter in former national champion never allowed her to give in even after the Railways woman had levelled at 3-3. In the decider, Shamini launched herself with some crisp forehands which brooked no challenged from the bespectacled Sagarika.
Women (Round-32): Senhora D’Souza (BoB) bt Reeth Rishya (PSPB) 11-13, 11-9, 6-11, 11-4, 6-11, 11-8, 13-11; Poymantee Baisya (WB) bt Sreeja Akula (RBI) 11-5, 11-6, 9-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-8; Takeme Sarkar (RSPB) bt Divya Deshpande (PSPB) 11-4, 9-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-9, 11-9; Shamini Kumaresan (PSPB) bt Sagarika Mukherjee (RSPB) 11-5, 11-7, 7-11, 11-8, 11-13, 9-11, 11-5; Shruti Amrute (RSPB) bt Pooja Sahasrabudhe (PSPB) 11-9, 11-9, 7-11, 7-11, 10-12, 12-10, 11-8.
Men: (Round-64): Wesley Do Rosario (Har) bt Manav Thakkar (PSPB) 4-11, 11-9, 7-11, 10-12, 11-9, 11-9, 11-8; Payas Jain bt Soham Bhattacharya (Ker) 4-11, 11-8, 5-11, 13-11, 11-7, 5-11, 11-8; Shivaji Roy (Jkd) b Vivek Bhargava (Raj) 11-6, 5-11, 11-3, 5-11, 13-11, 7-11, 11-7; Birdie Boro (PSPB) bt Hrishikesh Malhotra (Mah) 6-11, 9-11, 8-11, 11-5, 11-7, 17-15, 11-9; Ronit Bhanja (WB) bt Vishwa Deenadayalan (TN) 9-11, 11-9, 11-7, 8-11, 11-1, 11-4; Ananth Devarajan (TN) bt Pankaj Vishwakarna (RSPB) 6-11, 11-7, 11-9, 9-11, 13-11, 11-7; Soumyajit Ghosh (Har) bt Anukram Jain (Raj) 11-8, 9-11, 7-11, 11-5, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9.