Bengaluru: Achanta Sharath Kamal and K. Shamini emerged the men and women’s singles champions at the Indian Oil Servo National Ranking (South Zone) Table Tennis Championships which concluded at the Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium here today.
Sharath showed why he is adored by many table tennis aficionados all around the world when he beat left-handed Jubin Kumar 4-2 after being down 1-2. Sharath needed to re-establish himself as the top player of the country after having lost the national and Inter-Institutional titles to relatively junior players.
Returning to the top of the ladder in domestic seeding—he was seeded sixth for the first time in a decade at Inter-Institutional championships at Kolkata 10 days ago—he was out to prove a point. And he chose the best way only known to him with excellent display of long-ball play and wonderful returns away from the table which drew thunderous applause from the crowd.
Changing his strategy in the third game, Sharath brought out all his experience of playing on the World pro tour and the sudden change in speed was too hot for the southpaw to handle. Understandably, the attacking Kumar wilted under immense pressure when he should have slowed down the pace. And once Sharath levelled at 2-2, it was curtains for the Gujarat man.
A happy Sharath gave his due to Jubin Kumar and appreciated his game. “He was really good with his returns and is capable of playing big points and he proved it today earlier,” he said. On his winning the title, Sharath said: “I am returning to Germany soon to begin my pro tour and it’s always good to leave the country with a title win,” said the world No. 75.
Shamini started with a bang winning the first game only to lose momentum in the second. Before things could turn worse, she held on to her nerves to take the second game at 17-15 on the sixth game point. All along, Ankita was not giving up, but was certainly losing her way as repeated backhand chop and low toss serves fetching points to her opponent. Yet, credit must be given to the 19-year-old Olympian who slowed down the game a bit and profited from it. She won the next two rather easily and wearing out Shamini.
But in the crucial fifth game, the two-time national champion led her way all through and shut out whatever little challenge that came from Ankita.
With a decisive 3-2 lead, all Shamini had to do was play carefully in the sixth. She did that to greater perfection as an error-prone Ankita was struggling to find her feet as she net-corded most of her returns. That Shamini won the game 11-7 is indicative of her dominance to seal the title in her favour.
Later speaking to the media, Shamini acknowledged the fact that she should have wrapped the match earlier but lost her way. “I made some crucial mistakes and my coach pointed out those. I tried to remember them at the right moment and it helped me win the championship,” she said.
Earlier, Sharath Kamal toyed with the young Anirban who, perhaps overawed by the occasion and facing a player of Sharath’s stature, failed to bring in the element of surprise that he showed yesterday evening in the quarterfinals. In fact, even before Anirban could settle down top-seeded Sharath finished the first game, allowing his opponent just a solitary point. Anirban remained flashier in the rest of the match, but Sharath went about his job methodically to wrap up the match quickly.
In the adjacent court, southpaw Jubin Kumar accounted for Soumyadeep Roy in straight games. Displaying a repertoire of forehand and backhand shots, he imparted greater backspin and topspin servers to unsettle Roy very early in the match. Roy was always on the back foot and never came to terms with Jubin’s game plan of speed and kill.
As for the women’s semifinals, Shamini left her inhibitions and played true to her potential to outwit the reigning national champion and the recently crowned Inter-Institutional champion at Kolkata. In fact, Shamini was leading comfortable at 2-0, but allowed her rival to take the next game. By the fourth game, she steadied herself and took it 12-10. From there onward, Poulomi was simply doing the catching up act, despite winning the sixth game. In the other semifinal, Ankita Das came into her groove very early to lead 2-0 against Mouma Das. The Siliguri, normally a flashy player, cut out all the frills and concentrated on the job and it paid dividends.
Sathiyan, Krittiwika triumph
In the Youth boys and girls finals, G. Sathiyan defeated Sourav Saha 4-2 while Krittiwika Sinha Roy dumped Manika Batra 4-3 to win the titles in their category. Sathiyan, leading 3-0, should have wrapped it up but Saha rallied to put Sathiyan under pressure. But the canny Sathiyan, in spite of playing some lose shots during the match, finished soon enough although he admitted that he could not adjust to the sudden speed of Saha. The see-saw battle in the girls’ final saw many an up and down situations. Nevertheless, Krittiwika seized the opportunity when it presented in the decider to win rather easily in the end.
Men (Final): Achanta Sharath Kamal (PSPB) bt Jubin Kumar (PSPB) 11-8, 7-11, 10-12, 11-3, 11-5, 11-7; Semifinals: Achanta Sharath Kamal (PSPB) bt Anirban Ghosh (WB) 11-1, 11-7, 13-11, 11-8, Jubin Kumar (PSPB) bt Soumyadeep Roy (PSPB) 11-8, 11-7, 11-4, 11-6.
Women (Final): K. Shamini (PSPB) bt Ankita Das (PSPB) 11-7, 17-15, 5-11, 4-11, 11-7, 11-4. Semifinals: Ankita Das (PSPB) Mouma Das (PSPB) 11-7, 11-6, 4-11, 11-5, 5-11, 11-3, K. Shamini (PSPB) bt Polulomi Ghatak (PSPB) 11-9, 11-7, 8-11, 12-10, 9-11, 8-11, 11-6.
Youth Boys (Final): G. Sathiyan (PSPB) bt Sourav Saha (PSPB) 11-2, 14-12, 11-6, 6-11, 7-11, 13-11.
Youth Girls (Final): Krittiwika Sinha Roy (AAI) bt Manika Batra (PSPB) 5-11, 11-9, 11-4, 3-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-7.
By Indian Sports News Network