Sreeja Akula, the defending champion and women’s second seed, was on the verge of losing her quarterfinal match before she turned it on its head with an exciting 11-6, 11-6, 6-11, 6-11, 6-11, 13-11, 11-4 win over 18-year-old Yashaswini Ghorpade in the UTT-84th senior National and inter-State table tennis championships here on Sunday.
However, earlier in the day, five of the eight seeded players, including top seed Manika Batra and fourth seed Diya Chitale, were not as lucky as they all lost in the pre-quarterfinals.
Ayhika Mukherjee shut out Manika Batra in a slow-paced match in six games and returned to beat Moumita Datta in five games. Incidentally, it was Ayhika who upset Manika at the previous Nationals.
Sreeja was staring at defeat and her coach Somnath Ghosh fuming. Sreeja saved four match-points in the sixth game at 10-7 and again at 11-10 and went on to win the game. Sreeja was aggression personified in the decider as she raced away to a 7-0 lead and never looked back.
In the absence of 10-time champion Sharath Kamal, it looks like it’s G. Sathiyan’s crown to lose. The top seed has been rock solid and he showed it in his pre-quarterfinal win over S.F.R. Snehit and last-eight victory over Sudanshu Grover.
The results (quarterfinals):
Men: G. Sathiyan (PSPB) bt Sudhanshu Grover (Del) 9-11, 11-2, 11-8, 11-5, 4-11, 11-6; Manav Thakkar (PSPB) bt Ankur Bhattacharjee (WB) 10-12, 11-5, 11-8, 11-5, 11-6; Harmeet Desai (PSPB) bt Ronit Bhanja (RSPB) 7-11, 12-10, 11-6, 11-8, 6-11, 11-3; Manush Shah (RBI) bt Sanil Shetty (PSPB) 11-4, 11-9, 11-6, 11-7.
Women: Ayhika Mukherjee (RBI) bt Moumita Datta (WB) 11-7, 10-12, 11-4, 11-6, 11-8; Sutirtha Mukherjee (WB) bt Mouma Das (PSPB) 11-9, 11-5, 11-5, 11-8; Archana Kamath (PSPB) bt Poymantee Baisya (WB) 11-7, 11-3, 12-10, 11-1; Sreeja Akula (RBI) bt Yashaswini Ghorpade (PSPB) 11-6, 11-6, 6-11, 6-11, 6-11, 13-11, 11-4.