Amalraj bounces back to claim men’s title, Divya wins her first women’s crown


Final Day Report 

Jamnagar, October 11: Former national champion Anthony Amalraj bounced back to form to recapture the men’s singles title in TTFIthe JMC National Ranking (Central Zone) Table Tennis Championships, which concluded at the JMC
Indoor Stadium, here today.

The PSPB paddler beat Sanil Shankar Shetty, also of PSPB, 4-1. Just 40 minutes before his triumph, Divya Deshpande of Maharashtra annexed the women’s singles crown, defeating Pooja Sahasrabudhe of PSPB 4-2.

The wins for the finalists was worth Rs.66,000 and Rs. 55,000, respectively.

Amalraj, who missed a few times before, including at the South Zone in Chennai a couple of months ago, was superbly fit and as usual speedy. Southpaw Sanil, equally good, only paled before Amalraj’s calculated attack which paid rich dividends to him. There never was a dull moment in the match as both matched each other stroke for stroke. But in the end, it was Amalraj’s determination not lose yet again that won him the day.

It was Divya’s maiden national ranking title and a well-earned one, especially against a tough and seasoned opponent like Pooja Sahasrabudhe. “I really had to play out of my skin to beat Pooja,” said Divya, who skipped a few tournaments last year after being unwell. Indeed, she had to for only once before she had entered the final of an all-India ranking tournament, the Inter-Institutional Championships at Kolkata in 2012 where she lost to local paddler Paulomi Ghatak.

Down 0-2, Divya ran into a superlative form from the third game to make it absolutely hers. Pooja, on the other hand, was unable to match Divya’s forehands and even made several net errors which only helped her opponent. Once her state mate levelled the score 2-2, Pooja could never regain her composure as Divya kept her in a tight leash.

R factors at work

Ravindra Kotiyan announced his arrival in the national ranking event with a maiden Youth Boys title, beating PSPB’s Birdie Boro 4-1. Birdie did play well but was unable to match the guile of the Maharashtra boy who stroked his way past his rival, despite being extended in a couple of games. And Reeth picked up from where she left off at the South Zone in Chennai to overcome the lanky Manika Batra 4-3 in the Youth Girls final for her second title this season. Reeth was down 2-3 but the 12-10 win in the sixth game not only rejuvenated her but also restored her confidence. She breezily led 5-1 and 7-2 in the decider before Manika could even think of a comeback. With her backhand going very well and coach Ravi Venkatesh of Maharishi Vidhya Mandir academy at hand for advice, Reeth played brilliantly and used the flanks well to outwit her rival. But Manika cannot escape blame for giving away quite a few crucial points on a platter to her PSPB opponent. In the first semifinal battle between two Chennai men, old fox Anthony Amalraj beat G. Sathiyan 4-2 and Sanil Shetty downed Canara Bank’s Nitin Thiruvengadam 4-1 in the second. Amalraj and Sathiyan produced a fast and furious game, excellent rallies and served sharp cross-court feasts besides down-the line winners. In a ‘catch me up, if you can’ match, the fifth game changed it all for Amalraj as he won it by minimal point. Sathiyan, despite keeping some hopes alive in the next, Amalraj sealed it his way winning the sixth game on extended points.

Divya shocks Manika

It was a surprise women’s singles semifinal win for Divya Deshpande over Manika Batra, who lost 1-4. Divya, with a lot of potential had been the up-and-down kind so far. In the other match, Pooja Sahasrabudhe accounted for K. Shamini 4-2, the clincher being the fourth game to level 2-2 and from there Shamini disappeared from the picture. In Youth Boys, PSPB’s Birdie Boro stropped the run of West Bengal’s Ronit Bhanja 4-1 even as Maharashtra’s Ravindra Kotiyan shut out Karnataka’s Shreyal Telang in straight games to sound a firm warning. But Youth Girls’ first semifinal produced an interesting duel between Reeth Rishya and Priyanka Pareek of Rajasthan, who was playing her first semifinal in her career. The Rajasthan lefthander, who fought and exploited the angles well, deserved a pat on her back.


Men: Final:

Anthony Amalraj (PSPB) bt Sanil Shetty (PSPB) 11-3, 12-10, 4-11, 11-7, 11-8; *Semifinals*: Sanil Shankar Shetty bt Nitin Thiruvengadam (CB) 12-10, 11-7, 11-6, 9-11, 11-6; Anthony Amalraj bt G. Sathiyan (PSPB) 10-12, 12-10, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9, 12-10.

Women: Final:

Divya Deshpande (Mah) bt Pooja Sahasrabudhe (PSPB) 7-11,6-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-5, 11-8; *Semifinals*: Divya Deshpande bt Manika Batra (PSPB) 11-5, 11-8, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8; Pooja Sahasrabudhe bt K. Shamini (PSPB) 11-9, 8-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7.

Youth Boys: Final:

Ravindra Kotiyan (Mah) bt Birdie Boro (PSPB) 11-6,12-10, 12-10, 4-11, 11-7; *Semifinals*: Birdie Boro bt Ronit Bhanja (WB) 11-8, 11-8, 8-11, 11-2,11-8; Ravindra Kotiyan bt Shreyal Telang (KNT) 11-6,11-8, 11-5, 11-6.

Youth Girls: Final:

Reeth Rishya (PSPB) bt Manika Batra (PSPB) 7-11,13-11, 11-9, 9-11, 9-11, 12-10, 11-6; *Semifinals*: Manika Batra bt Sreeja Akula (AAI) 11-5, 11-2, 11-9, 6-11, 11-9; Reeth Rishya bt Priyanka Pareek (Raj) 11-6, 11-4, 8-11, 11-7, 5-11, 8-11, 14-12.

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