Achanta Sharath Kamal has been crowned as the National Table Tennis Champion for a record ninth time at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in Cuttack. Archana Kamath clinched the trophy in the women’s singles event for the first time at the 80th edition of the tournament which concluded today.
World No. 31 and multiple CWG and Asian Games medal winner Sharath Kamal defeated G. Sathiyan 4-3 in men’s singles final of the 80th National Table Tennis Championship in Odisha’s Cuttack. But, what a final it had turned out to be for Sathiyan, whose brilliance matched that of Sharath’s and yet he suffered at his hand for the second time while chasing an elusive maiden title despite reaching the final on three occasions.
In fact, Sharath should have sewn it up earlier. But he could not hold his nerves despite leading 10-8 in the fifth game and Sathiyan pulled it off nicely at 12-10 to go 3-2 up. The pressure on Sharath was too much as he had to win the next to stay in the match and he did it in style. But the decider took the toll on both players and the extended game was won on the third match-point by Sharath while Sathiyan just missed one.
“The pressure was on both of us. But whatever I did to take the ninth title off my mind, it was coming back again and again with everyone remembering me. Similarly, Sathiyan was going for his first title and he was equally pressured,” said Sharath.
Giving full credit to Sathiyan, Sharath said, “This final was by far the best in terms of quality.” That explains the ferocity and seriousness with which Sathiyan attacked from both flanks and kept me engaged.”
Archana, who skipped the Youth National after niggle, did well to recover in time for the nationals. Her confidence had soared after beating CWG gold medal winner Manika Batra in the semifinals and it was evident twice in the final when after trailing 4-7 in the third and again 6-10 in the fourth, the girl from Karnataka came back strongly to go 3-1 up. But in the fifth, some loose shots didn’t help her as she gave away too many negatives to the West Bengal paddler.
However, in the
Archana dedicated the win to three important people, coach Vijay Sarathy, Judit Magos Engle, wife of former India coach Peter Engel, and her cousin sister, who passed away a fortnight ago under tragic circumstances. “I have been very attached to her,” said the Youth Olympics quarterfinalist. “I think the title has come at the right time. I always wanted to win the crown. I know even my opponent (
Archana Kamath accomplished something which Archana Rao (Viswanath) could not do after reaching her first final in 1992 Goa Nationals. The 18-year-old has thus become the second paddler from Karnataka after Usha Sunder Raj, a five-time national champion, to win the crown.
The men singles semifinals were absolutely one-sided with Sharath and Sathiyan beating their opponents—Manav Thakkar and Ronit Bhanja—but what aroused interests was the women singles semifinals in which Archana Kamath and Krittwika Sinha emerged winners for a final showdown.
Earlier, Sathiyan beat Amalraj in the quarterfinals 4-2 for the first time and his first victory took as many as 14 meetings and came after 13 successive losses he suffered at the hands of the senior
Archana defeated Manika Batra 4-1 while Krittwika struggled past Ayhika
Archana couldn’t have asked for a better opening as she was in a zone of her own with Manika struggling to feel the ball and was more
On the other hand, despite leading 2-1, Krittwika had to labour against Ayhika who came close to beating her opponent when she levelled the score at 3-3. However, in the decider, the Krittiwika showed more resolve and kept the ball on
In men doubles final, the West Bengal pair of Arjun Ghosh and Ronit Bhanja defeated the Railways’ Anirban Ghosh and Anirban Nandi 3-1 to win the title, making up for their singles losses earlier, especially Ronit Bhanja who lost to G. Sathiyan in the men singles semifinals.
In women doubles, it was the Telangana’s Nikhat Banu and Sreeja Akula, who combined very well to beat Maharashtra’s
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