Senior Nationals and Inter-State Table Tennis Championships: PSPB men and RBI women retain team

Senior Nationals and Inter-State Table Tennis Championships: PSPB men and RBI women retain team

Panchkula: There was no change to the scripts. The Petroleum Sports Promotion Board men and the Reserve Bank of India women retained their team titles in the 85th UTT Senior Nationals and Inter-State Table Tennis Championships at the Tau Devi Lal Indoor Stadium.

The finals were one-sided in terms of results. However, the lead actors of the PSPB did not take to the stage. Perhaps they realised the support actors were competent enough to accomplish the job. And they did it, of course, with some constraints. G. Sathiyan enacted the guest role, playing his only match in the team event final.

For RBI, Sreeja Akula played her lead role to perfection, as Ayhika and Diya Chitale did the support roles as the script demanded. They collected the second successive trophy.

Anthony Amalraj, in his opening scene, struggled for quite some time before outlasting Payas Jain 3-2, but Manav Thakkar and Sathiyan saved the blushes with 3-0 wins over Sudhanshu Grover and Shubh Goel in what was another day in the office for the PSPB paddlers, picking up the 27th team trophy.

Ayhika Mukherjee was not in her element, lacking the focus and game plan against the Tamil Nadu girl, Yashini Sivashankar. The odd rubber that Ayhika uses is no longer a novelty for her opponents. So, it was not a surprise when Ayhika was in some distress when Yashini led 2-0 and was almost on the verge of making it 3-0 in the first rubber.

But Yashini ignored the basic principle of keeping the ball on the table. Ayhika, making the most of such opportunities, pulled one back. It strengthened her resolve. Stepping on the gas pedal, she levelled the score. In the decider, Yashini led 8-5 but let the chance slip off, and after saving one tie point, she converted the second to put RBI 1-0 up.

Sreeja Akula was more clinical and mindful of the job. She went on cruise mode and ran away with a sizable lead in all the games. Kavyashree Baskar, unable to come to terms, went down in straight games, providing RBI a 2-0 lead. Diya Chitale, not at her full fitness, beat Selenadeepthi Selvakumar in the third rubber. But not before the Tamil Nadu woman put up a brave front and stretched the RBI girl now and then. Even if Selena had managed to win the rubber, it would not have mattered as Sreeja, in fine form, would have completed the job.

Haryana women, after finishing ninth, became eligible to participate in the Nationals Games that are to be held in Uttarakhand next year.

Haryana Governor Bandaru Dattatreya gave away the trophies and medals to the teams that reached the podium.

Results (TEAM FINALS):

Men: PSPB bt Delhi 3-0 (Anthony Amalraj bt Payas Jain 9-11, 13-11, 11-9, 11-13, 11-9; Manav Thakkar bt Sudhanshu Grover 11-9, 11-8, 5-11, 11-9; G. Sathiyan bt Shubh Goel 11-6, 11-9, 11-2).

Women: RBI bt Tamil Nadu 3-0 (Ayhika Mukherjee bt Yashini Sivashankar 12-14, 3-11, 13-11, 11-6, 13-11; Sreeja Akula bt Kavyashree Baskar 11-3, 11-8, 11-5; Diya Chitale bt Selenadeepthi Selvakumar 6-11, 11-5, 11-7, 8-11, 15-13).

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