Two days remain in the 83rd Senior National Table Tennis Championship, with intense singles and doubles action today as the players look to get to the business end of the main draw.
Tomorrow will see the mixed doubles final at 6pm, with Monday being the concluding day with women’s singles and doubles and men’s singles and doubles finals.
Today saw Arjuna awardee and Commonwealth and Asian Games medallist Anthony Amalraj make his competitive return to Shillong. He figured in the Indian team that dominated the table tennis events in the South Asian Games 2016.
Amalraj made it through to the men’s singles third round, to be held tomorrow morning, by beating Surya Teja Telidevara 4-1 after losing the first game. G Sathiyan (a 4-2) winner and Sharath Kamal (4-0) also made it into the Round of 32.
There were a couple of surprises, including Soham Bhattacharya upsetting the ninth seed Arjun Ghosh 4-3 at the SAI Indoor Stadium.
Arjun, placed comfortably at 3-1, looked cruising. However, a rejuvenated Soham attacked and mounted pressure on Arjun. It paid rich dividends as the Kerala paddler took the next three games on the trot to emerge the winner.
In the women’s singles, Manika Batra had her task cut out against unseeded Riti Shankar of Haryana in the women’s singles. Trailing 0-2, Manika was on the brink in the third at 9-9. But her experience in tackling such situations came in handy as the Haryana woman failed to press home the advantage. Seizing the moment, she drew the first blood and levelled the score in the next. After that, the round of 64 matches went only one way, and Manika upped the ante to surge into the lead and complete the task in style.
In another match involving two unseeded players, Trisha Gogoi and Deepika Neelakandan, the Assam girl emerged victorious, taking the last two games. Deepika levelled at 2-2 and wilted under pressure when Trisha attacked well. But young Jennifer Varghese from Maharashtra fought back nicely to put Bengal’s Moumita Dutta under enormous pressure. But the senior pro came good in the decider, wrapping up the match 4-3.